Reversal of bacterial locomotion at an obstacle

Luis Cisneros, Christopher Dombrowski, Raymond E. Goldstein, John O. Kessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Recent experiments have shown large-scale dynamic coherence in suspensions of the bacterium B. subtilis, characterized by quorum polarity, collective parallel swimming of cells. To probe mechanisms leading to this, we study the response of individual cells to steric stress, and find that they can reverse swimming direction at spatial constrictions without turning the cell body. The consequences of this propensity to flip the flagella are quantified by measurements of the inward and outward swimming velocities, whose asymptotic values far from the constriction show near perfect symmetry, implying that "forwards" and "backwards" are dynamically indistinguishable, as with E. coli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number030901
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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