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Microorganism locomotion in viscoelastic fluids

Mathematical Biology

Speaker: Becca Thomases, Mathematics Department, UC Davis
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Location: 2112 MSB
Start time: Mon, Oct 15 2018, 3:10PM

Many microorganisms and cells function in complex (non-Newtonian) fluids, which are mixtures of different materials and exhibit both viscous and elastic stresses. For example, mammalian sperm swim through cervical mucus on their journey through the female reproductive tract, and they must penetrate the viscoelastic gel outside the ovum to fertilize. A swimming stroke emerges from the coupled interactions between the complex rheology of the surrounding media and the passive and active body dynamics of the swimmer. We use computational models of swimmers in viscoelastic fluids to understand these interactions. I will show results from several recent investigations, and give mechanistic explanations for some different experimental observations. In particular I will discuss how flexible filaments (such as flagella) can store energy from the fluid to obtain speed enhancements from fluid elasticity.

Host: Mariel Vazquez —