Physical Review E
Heterogeneous systems of active matter exhibit a range of complex emergent dynamical patterns. In particular, it is difficult to predict the properties of the mixed system based on its constituents. These considerations are particularly significant for understanding realistic bacterial swarms, which typically develop heterogeneities even when grown from a single cell. Here, mixed swarms of cells with different aspect ratios are studied both experimentally and in simulations. In contrast with previous theory, there is no macroscopic phase segregation. However, locally, long cells act as nucleation cites, around which aggregates of short, rapidly moving cells can form, resulting in enhanced swarming speeds. On the other hand, high fractions of long cells form a bottleneck for efficient swarming. Our results suggest a physical advantage for the spontaneous heterogeneity of bacterial swarm populations.
Peled, Shlomit; Ryan, Shawn D.; Heidenreich, Sebastian; Baer, Markus; Ariel, Gil; and Be'er, Avraham, "Heterogeneous Bacterial Swarms with Mixed Lengths" (2021). Mathematics Faculty Publications. 344.