Europhys. Lett.
Volume 66, Number 4, May 2004
Page(s) 599 - 602
Section Interdisciplinary physics and related areas of science and technology
Published online 01 May 2004
Europhys. Lett., 66 (4) , pp. 599-602 (2004)
DOI: 10.1209/epl/i2003-10237-5

Self-trapping of a single bacterium in its own chemoattractant

Y. Tsori and P.-G. de Gennes

Physique de la Matière Condensèe, Collège de France - Paris, France

(Received 17 December 2003; accepted 12 March 2004)

Bacteria (e.g., E. coli) are very sensitive to certain chemoattractants (e.g., asparate) which they themselves produce. This leads to chemical instabilities in a uniform population. We discuss here the different case of a single bacterium, following the general scheme of Brenner, Levitov and Budrene. We show that in one and two dimensions (in a capillary or in a thin film) the bacterium can become self-trapped in its cloud of attractant. This should occur if a certain coupling constant g is larger than unity. We then estimate the reduced diffusion $D_{\ab{eff}}$ of the bacterium in the strong-coupling limit, and find $D_{\ab{eff}}\sim g^{-1}$.

87.10.+e - General theory and mathematical aspects.

© EDP Sciences 2004