Bacterial population solitary waves can defeat rings of funnels

Ryan J. Morris, Trung V. Phan, Matthew Black, Ke Chih Lin, Ioannis G. Kevrekidis, Julia A. Bos, Robert H. Austin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We have constructed a microfabricated circular corral for bacteria made of rings of concentric funnels which channel motile bacteria outwards via non-hydrodynamic interactions with the funnel walls. Initially bacteria do move rapidly outwards to the periphery of the corral. At the edge, nano-slits allow for the transport of nutrients into the device while keeping the bacteria from escaping. After a period of time in which the bacteria increase their cell density in this perimeter region, they are then able to defeat the physical constrains of the funnels by launching back-propagating collective waves. We present the basic data and some nonlinear modeling which can explain how bacterial population waves propagate through a physical funnel, and discuss possible biological implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number035002
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


  • bacterial dynamics
  • bacterial waves
  • collective behavior
  • funnels


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