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Synchronisation of Rotating Helical Filaments

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Multi-flagellated bacteria swim by rotating rigid helical filaments organised in bundles. The flagella within the bundle rotate in synchrony, and it has long been postulated that hydrodynamic interactions facilitate synchronisation. Using a combined analytical(resistive-force theory) and computational approach (slender-body theory), we derive from first principles a dynamical system that explains the synchronisation of two rotating helices through hydrodynamic interactions. This is the first analytical model that takes into account the helical geometry of bacterial flagella, making an important contribution to the mathematical understanding of a phenomenon revealed by computational studies more than a decade ago. In the last part of the talk I will apply these results to real biological data and address some aspects of the synchronisation of flagellar filaments in real bacteria.

This talk is part of the DAMTP BioLunch series.

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