Sitting still or going hunting: Which works better?

David L. Chandler | MIT News
Friday, November 2, 2012

Former Ferrari Group postdoc John Taylor (now a University Lecturer, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, UK) worked with Roman Stocker (CEE) in this study showing if you’re a microbe floating in the ocean, there’s no single best strategy for getting food.

Read this story at MIT News

Examining the impact of turbulence on the ability of motile bacteria to swim up chemical gradients, a process known as chemotaxis: In this direct numerical simulation, a patch of dissolved nutrients was injected into fully-developed homogeneous, isotropic turbulence. The red iso-surface indicates where the nutrient concentration is 10% of its initial maximum value. Bacteria start out uniformly distributed throughout the computational volume, but quickly begin to cluster around the nutrient filaments. The color volume rendering shows where the bacteria concentration is larger than the initial value. As reported in Taylor and Stocker (2010), the optimal advantage of chemotactic bacteria occurs at intermediate turbulence levels.


John Taylor

Ferrari Group


Taylor, J.R., and R. Stocker (2012), Trade-Offs of Chemotactic Foraging in Turbulent Water, Science 2 November 2012: Vol. 338 no. 6107 pp. 675-679, doi: 10.1126/science.1219417

Stocker, R. (2012), Microbes See a Sea of Gradients, Science 2 November 2012: Vol. 338 no. 6107 pp. 628-633, doi: 10.1126/science.1208929

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