Finite-size effects on bacterial population expansion under controlled flow conditions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
130 Downloads (Pure)


The expansion of biological species in natural environments is usually described as the combined effect of individual spatial dispersal and growth. In the case of aquatic ecosystems flow transport can also be extremely relevant as an extra, advection induced, dispersal factor. We designed and assem- bled a dedicated microfluidic device to control and quantify the expansion of populations of E.coli bacteria under both co-flowing and counter-flowing conditions, measuring the front speed at varying intensity of the imposed flow. At variance with respect to the case of classic advective-reactive- diffusive chemical fronts, we measure that almost irrespective of the counter-flow velocity, the front speed remains finite at a constant positive value. A simple model incorporating growth, dispersion and drift on finite-size hard beads allows to explain this finding as due to a finite volume effect of the bacteria. This indicates that models based on the Fisher-Kolmogorov-Petrovsky-Piscounov equation (FKPP) that ignore the finite size of organisms may be inaccurate to describe the physics of spatial growth dynamics of bacteria.
Original languageEnglish
Article number43903
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2017


  • Escherichia coli/growth & development
  • Lab-On-A-Chip Devices
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Water Microbiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Finite-size effects on bacterial population expansion under controlled flow conditions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this