Gyrotaxis in a steady vortical flow

Phys Rev Lett. 2011 Jun 10;106(23):238102. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.106.238102. Epub 2011 Jun 6.


We show that gyrotactic motility within a steady vortical flow leads to tightly clustered aggregations of microorganisms. Two dimensionless numbers, characterizing the relative swimming speed and stability against overturning by vorticity, govern the coupling between motility and flow. Exploration of parameter space reveals a striking array of patchiness regimes. Aggregations are found to form within a few overturning time scales, suggesting that vortical flows might be capable of efficiently separating species with different motility characteristics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Biophysical Phenomena*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Swimming / physiology
  • Viscosity
  • Water Microbiology*