Hydrodynamic phase-locking of swimming microorganisms
Elfring, Gwynn J.
Some microorganisms, such as spermatozoa, synchronize their flagella when swimming in close proximity. Using a simplified model (two infinite, parallel, two-dimensional waving sheets), we show that phase-locking arises from hydrodynamics forces alone, and has its origin in the front-back asymmetry of the geometry of their flagellar waveform. The time-evolution of the phase difference between co-swimming cells depends only on the nature of this geometrical asymmetry, and microorganisms can phase-lock into conformations which minimize or maximize energy dissipation.
Physics - Biological Physics, Condensed Matter - Soft Condensed Matter, Physics - Fluid Dynamics