Tuning bacterial hydrodynamics with magnetic fields
AbstractMagnetotactic bacteria are a group of motile prokaryotes that synthesize chains of lipid-bound, magnetic nanoparticles called magnetosomes. This study exploits their innate magnetism to investigate previously unexplored facets of bacterial hydrodynamics at surfaces. Through use of weak, uniform, external magnetic fields and local, micromagnetic surface patterns, the relative strength of hydrodynamic, magnetic, and flagellar force components is tuned through magnetic control of the bacteria's orientation. The resulting swimming behaviors provide a means to experimentally determine hydrodynamic parameters and offer a high degree of control over large numbers of living microscopic entities. The implications of this controlled motion for studies of bacterial motility near surfaces and for micro- and nanotechnology are discussed.