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Propulsion and Chemotaxis in Bacteria-Driven Microswimmers




Despite the large body of experimental work recently on biohybrid microsystems, few studies have focused on theoretical modeling of such systems, which is essential to understand their underlying functioning mechanisms and hence design them optimally for a given application task. Therefore, this study focuses on developing a mathematical model to describe the 3D motion and chemotaxis of a type of widely studied biohybrid microswimmer, where spherical microbeads are driven by multiple attached bacteria. The model is developed based on the biophysical observations of the experimental system and is validated by comparing the model simulation with experimental 3D swimming trajectories and other motility characteristics, including mean squared displacement, speed, diffusivity, and turn angle. The chemotaxis modeling results of the microswimmers also agree well with the experiments, where a collective chemotactic behavior among multiple bacteria is observed. The simulation result implies that such collective chemotaxis behavior is due to a synchronized signaling pathway across the bacteria attached to the same microswimmer. Furthermore, the dependencies of the motility and chemotaxis of the microswimmers on certain system parameters, such as the chemoattractant concentration gradient, swimmer body size, and number of attached bacteria, toward an optimized design of such biohybrid system are studied. The optimized microswimmers would be used in targeted cargo, e.g., drug, imaging agent, gene, and RNA, transport and delivery inside the stagnant or low-velocity fluids of the human body as one of their potential biomedical applications.

Author(s): Zhuang, Jiang and Park, Byung-Wook and Sitti, Metin
Journal: Advanced Science
Year: 2017
Month: May
Day: 24

Department(s): Physical Intelligence
Research Project(s): Bacteria-propelled bio-hybrid microswimmers
Targeted cargo delivery using microbots
Bibtex Type: Article (article)

DOI: 10.1002/advs.201700109


  title = {Propulsion and Chemotaxis in Bacteria-Driven Microswimmers},
  author = {Zhuang, Jiang and Park, Byung-Wook and Sitti, Metin},
  journal = {Advanced Science},
  month = may,
  year = {2017},
  month_numeric = {5}