Phototaxis is one of the main categories of motility regulation by microorganisms. Arguably, it is particularly important for motile micro algae, due to their photosynthetic activity. One of the organisms where it has been studied the most is our beloved micro alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Currently, we have a pretty good idea of the mechanism leading the cells to reorient towards/away from the light, but not much is known about what happens after they’ve reoriented…. In our recent paper we start looking into this, with surprising results.
We had the great pleasure to host for two months Julia Dolger, PhD student from the group of Anders Andersen and Thomas Kiorboe at the Technical University of Denmark. She’s been working very hard during her short stay here on a joint project looking at microbial predator/prey systems, and we had lots of interesting discussions! Good luck to her for the final part of her PhD and let’s keep in touch!
Warwick’s Institute of Advanced Studies has granted us a small grant to kickstart a new interdepartmental network on microfluidics for life sciences and medical applications. This marks the birth of Warwick Biological MicroFluidics (WBMi): watch this space over the next months for developments!
Does a stronger interaction always make for a more stable system? Certainly not for synchronising oscillators, as we show in a paper just accepted in Physical Review Fluids. There we study the behaviour of a strip of colloidal rotors as the system is lifted from a no-slip surface. As the hydrodynamic coupling strengthens, the system develop recurring phase defects which worsen its synchronisation. Our simulations show that defects result from a competition between short-range and long-range coupling. The paper is currently accessible through the ArXiv.
Update: The paper has been published (open access) and is now available here.
Great news! In collaboration with John McCarthy (Warwick SLS) we got a small grant from Warwick Integrative Synthetic Biology Centre to support Ollie Sinfield for a few months after his PhD. Ollie will be working with us to develop a microfluidic channel to trap multiple generation of budding yeast cells for long-timescale microscopy. This will enable the study of inheritance of ageing dynamics.
Congratulations to Richard for winning a travel grant from the Research Conference Fund of the Institute of Physics! This grant will allow him to present his latest research results at the 4th International Soft Matter Conference in Grenoble this September. Well done Richard!
Particle entrainment by Raphaël, just accepted on Nat Com!
What happens to passive microparticles within a suspension of microorganisms? If the particles are small, they can be entrained over large distances by the micro swimmers. These interactions are rare, but their magnitude is large and -as it turns out- they end up dominating particle dynamics, which now resembles a jump-diffusion process. This is presented and discussed in details in a new work led by Raphaël, just accepted on Nature Communications. A preprint of the article (well.. a previous version) is currently available on the Arxiv.
Update. The article is now available here.
Great news today! George Parry, MSc-R Physics student co-supervised with Meera, has been accepted at the 2016 IFOM summer school in Quantitative Biology! This will be an excellent opportunity for this young physicist to get some hands-on training on cell biology!