Motility of small nematodes in wet granular media
Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
Accepted: 1 November 2010
The motility of the worm nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is investigated in shallow, wet granular media as a function of particle size dispersity and area density (φ). Surprisingly, we find that the nematode's propulsion speed is enhanced by the presence of particles in a fluid and is nearly independent of area density. The undulation speed, often used to differentiate locomotion gaits, is significantly affected by the bulk material properties of wet mono- and polydisperse granular media for φ ≥ 0.55. This difference is characterized by a change in the nematode's waveform from swimming to crawling in dense polydisperse media only. This change highlights the organism's adaptability to subtle differences in local structure and response between monodisperse and polydisperse media.
PACS: 47.63.Gd – Swimming microorganisms / 87.85.gj – Movement and locomotion / 45.70.-n – Granular systems
© EPLA, 2010