A statistical physics view of swarming bacteria

Avraham Be'er, Gil Ariel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Bacterial swarming is a collective mode of motion in which cells migrate rapidly over surfaces, forming dynamic patterns of whirls and jets. This review presents a physical point of view of swarming bacteria, with an emphasis on the statistical properties of the swarm dynamics as observed in experiments. The basic physical principles underlying the swarm and their relation to contemporary theories of collective motion and active matter are reviewed and discussed in the context of the biological properties of swarming cells. We suggest a paradigm according to which bacteria have optimized some of their physical properties as a strategy for rapid surface translocation. In other words, cells take advantage of favorable physics, enabling efficient expansion that enhances survival under harsh conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalMovement Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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