Hydrodynamic interaction of two unsteady model microorganisms

Davide Giacché, Takuji Ishikawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The study of pair-wise interactions between swimming microorganisms is fundamental to the understanding of the rheological and transport properties of semi-dilute suspensions. In this paper, the hydrodynamic interaction of two ciliated microorganisms is investigated numerically using a boundary-element method, and the microorganisms are modeled as spherical squirmers that swim by time-dependent surface deformations. The results show that the inclusion of the unsteady terms in the ciliary propulsion model has a large impact on the trajectories of the interacting cells, and causes a significant change in scattering angles with potential important consequences on the diffusion properties of semi-dilute suspensions. Furthermore, the analysis of the shear stress acting on the surface of the microorganisms revealed that the duration and the intensity of the near-field interaction are significantly modified by the presence of unsteadiness. This observation may account for the hydrodynamic nature of randomness in some biological reactions, and supersedes the distinction between intrinsic randomness and hydrodynamic interactions, adding a further element to the understanding and modeling of interacting microorganisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-263
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Nov 21


  • Bio-fluid mechanics
  • Cell locomotion
  • Ciliates
  • Diffusion
  • Stokes flow


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