Coexistence of tight and loose bundled states in a model of bacterial flagellar dynamics

P. J. A. Janssen, M. D. Graham
2011 Physical Review E  
Many microorganisms propel themselves through their fluid environment by means of multiple rotating flagella that self-organize to form bundles, a process that is complex and poorly understood. In the present work, the bundling behavior of a pair of flexible flagella, each driven by a constant torque motor, is investigated, using a mathematical model incorporating the fluid motion generated by each flagellum as well as the finite flexibility of the flagella. The initial stage of bundling is
more » ... en purely by hydrodynamics but the final state of the bundle is determined by a nontrivial balance between hydrodynamics and elasticity. As the flexibility of the flagella increases a regime is found where, depending on initial conditions, one finds bundles that are either tight, with the flagella in mechanical contact, or loose, with the flagella intertwined but not touching. That is, multiple coexisting states of bundling are found. The parameter regime (in terms of flexibility and distance between motors) at which this multiplicity occurs is comparable to the parameters for a number of bacteria. 2
doi:10.1103/physreve.84.011910 pmid:21867216 fatcat:jvpmufva3zcz7itdfecvjuhcwe