Phase separation in mixed suspensions of bacteria and nonadsorbing polymers

V.F.D. Peters, M. Vis, R. Tuinier, H.N.W. Lekkerkerker (Corresponding author)

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5 Citations (Scopus)


The shapes of bacteria can vary widely; they may, for instance, be spherical, rod-like, string-like, or curved. In general, bacilli are highly anisotropic. For research and (bio)technological purposes, it can be useful to concentrate bacteria, which is possible by adding nonadsorbing polymers. The induced phase separation originates from a polymer-mediated depletion interaction, first understood by Asakura and Oosawa. Here, it is shown that free volume theory (FVT) can semi-quantitatively describe the phase transitions observed when adding sodium polystyrene sulfonate polymers to E. coli bacteria [Schwarz-Linek et al., Soft Matter 6, 4540 (2010)] at high ionic strength. The E. coli bacteria are described as short, hard spherocylinders. FVT predicts that the phase transitions of the mixtures result from a fluid-ABC crystal solid phase coexistence of a hard spherocylinder-polymer mixture.

Original languageEnglish
Article number151101
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2021

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