Noncontact Cohesive Swimming of Bacteria in Two-Dimensional Liquid Films
AbstractBacterial swimming in confined two-dimensional environments is ubiquitous in nature and in clinical settings. Characterizing individual interactions between swimming bacteria in 2D confinement will help to understand diverse microbial processes, such as bacterial swarming and biofilm formation. Here we report a novel motion pattern displayed by flagellated bacteria in 2D confinement: When two nearby cells align their moving directions, they tend to engage in cohesive swimming without direct cell body contact, as a result of hydrodynamic interaction but not flagellar intertwining. We further found that cells in cohesive swimming move with higher directional persistence, which can increase the effective diffusivity of cells by ∼3 times as predicted by computational modeling. As a conserved behavior for peritrichously flagellated bacteria, cohesive swimming in 2D confinement may be key to collective motion and self-organization in bacterial swarms; it may also promote bacterial dispersal in unsaturated soils and in interstitial space during infections.