Scale-invariant correlations in dynamic bacterial clusters

Xiao Chen, Xu Dong, Avraham Be'Er, Harry L. Swinney, H. P. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


In Bacillus subtilis colonies, motile bacteria move collectively, spontaneously forming dynamic clusters. These bacterial clusters share similarities with other systems exhibiting polarized collective motion, such as bird flocks or fish schools. Here we study experimentally how velocity and orientation fluctuations within clusters are spatially correlated. For a range of cell density and cluster size, the correlation length is shown to be 30% of the spatial size of clusters, and the correlation functions collapse onto a master curve after rescaling the separation with correlation length. Our results demonstrate that correlations of velocity and orientation fluctuations are scale invariant in dynamic bacterial clusters.

Original languageEnglish
Article number148101
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number14
StatePublished - 5 Apr 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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