Brown University School of Engineering

CFM/FTCP Seminar: Bacteria, Biofilms and Fluid Dynamics: Elementary Flows and Unexpected Phenomena

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Tuesday, March 06, 2012 3:00pm - 4:00pm

Howard Stone Princeton University Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Princeton, NJ Bacteria, Biofilms and Fluid Dynamics: Elementary Flows and Unexpected Phenomena Bacterial biofilms have an enormous impact on medicine, industry and ecology. These microbial communities are generally considered to adhere to surfaces or interfaces. In most practical situations, the biofilms are exposed to flow. We investigate two features of such systems: (i) We examine the migration of bacteria along surfaces when exposed to a shear flow. In particular, we identify an unusual response where flow produces a directed motion of twitching bacteria in the upstream direction. (ii) We report the formation of biofilm streamers (threads of biofilm) suspended in the middle plane of curved microchannels under conditions of laminar flow. We use numerical simulations of the three-dimensional flow in curved channels to highlight the presence of a secondary vortical motion in the proximity of the corners, which suggests an underlying hydrodynamic mechanism responsible for the formation of the streamers. Thus, we bring together experiments, simulations, and models for the fluid-structure interaction to rationalize the spatial and temporal development of bacterial streamers. Host: Petia Vlahovska - Petia_Vlahovska@brown.edu