International researchers have discovered that bacteria travels around “tracks,” much like the runners will during the upcoming Summer Olympics in Brazil, but in a much more complex way.
Their research shows bacteria moves in two directions on one fluid-filled oval the size of a millimeter. Bacteria on the outside of the track move in one direction while bacteria on the inside of the track move in the opposite direction.
The study’s main goal was to figure out how bacteria colonies spread through very small cracks and crevices they inhabit in natural settings that are filled with water. The movement of the bacteria is believed to stem from natural collective patterns.
“It’s not at all obvious how they do this,” Enkeleida Lushi, a co-author of the study from the Brown school of engineering, said. “Bacteria don’t have leaders to follow, they have limited sensory systems, and they’re not very smart. They can’t really make decisions about where to go, so it is all down to mechanical interactions between themselves and their surroundings.”