Heterogeneous bacterial swarms with mixed lengths

Shlomit Peled, Shawn D. Ryan, Sebastian Heidenreich, Markus Bär, Gil Ariel, Avraham Be'Er

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Heterogeneous systems of active matter exhibit a range of complex emergent dynamical patterns. In particular, it is difficult to predict the properties of the mixed system based on its constituents. These considerations are particularly significant for understanding realistic bacterial swarms, which typically develop heterogeneities even when grown from a single cell. Here, mixed swarms of cells with different aspect ratios are studied both experimentally and in simulations. In contrast with previous theory, there is no macroscopic phase segregation. However, locally, long cells act as nucleation cites, around which aggregates of short, rapidly moving cells can form, resulting in enhanced swarming speeds. On the other hand, high fractions of long cells form a bottleneck for efficient swarming. Our results suggest a physical advantage for the spontaneous heterogeneity of bacterial swarm populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number032413
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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