Hydrodynamics of bacterial colonies: A model

J. Lega, T. Passot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We propose a hydrodynamic model for the evolution of bacterial colonies growing on soft agar plates. This model consists of reaction-diffusion equations for the concentrations of nutrients, water, and bacteria, coupled to a single hydrodynamic equation for the velocity field of the bacteria-water mixture. It captures the dynamics inside the colony as well as on its boundary and allows us to identify a mechanism for collective motion towards fresh nutrients, which, in its modeling aspects, is similar to classical chemotaxis. As shown in numerical simulations, our model reproduces both usual colony shapes and typical hydrodynamic motions, such as the whirls and jets recently observed in wet colonies of Bacillus subtilis. The approach presented here could be extended to different experimental situations and provides a general framework for the use of advection-reaction-diffusion equations in modeling bacterial colonies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18
Number of pages1
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical Physics, Plasmas, Fluids, and Related Interdisciplinary Topics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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