Bacterial mobility and motility in porous media mimicked by microspheres

by Shrestha, D.; Ou, J.; Rogers, A.; Jereb, A.; Okyere, D.; Chen, J. Y.; Wang, Y.

Bacterial motion in porous media is essential for their survival, proper functioning, and various applications. Here we investigated the motion of Escherichia coli bacteria in microsphere-mimicked porous media. We observed reduced bacterial velocity and enhanced directional changes of bacteria as the density of microspheres increased, while such changes happened mostly around the microspheres and due to the collisions with the microspheres. More importantly, we established and quantified the correlation between the bacterial trapping in porous media and the geometric confinement imposed by the microspheres. In addition, numerical simulations showed that the active Brownian motion model in the presence of microspheres resulted in bacterial motion that are consistent with the experimental observations. Our study suggested that it is important to distinguish the ability of bacteria to move easily - bacterial mobility - from the ability of bacteria to move independently - bacteria motility. Our results showed that bacterial motility remains similar in porous media, but bacterial mobility was significantly affected by the pore-scale confinement.

Colloids and Surfaces B-Biointerfaces
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