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Journal Article

Effective dynamics of microorganisms that interact with their own trail


Golestanian,  Ramin       
Department of Living Matter Physics, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Max Planck Society;

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Kranz, W. T., Gelimson, A., Zhao, K., Wong, G. C. L., & Golestanian, R. (2016). Effective dynamics of microorganisms that interact with their own trail. Physical Review Letters, 117(3): 038101. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.117.038101.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-746D-3
Like ants, some microorganisms are known to leave trails on surfaces to communicate. We explore how trail-mediated self-interaction could affect the behavior of individual microorganisms when diffusive spreading of the trail is negligible on the time scale of the microorganism using a simple phenomenological model for an actively moving particle and a finite-width trail. The effective dynamics of each microorganism takes on the form of a stochastic integral equation with the trail interaction appearing in the form of short-term memory. For a moderate coupling strength below an emergent critical value, the dynamics exhibits effective diffusion in both orientation and position after a phase of superdiffusive reorientation. We report experimental verification of a seemingly counterintuitive perpendicular alignment mechanism that emerges from the model. © 2016 American Physical Society.