Upstream Swimming in Microbiological Flows

Arnold J. T. M. Mathijssen, Tyler N. Shendruk, Julia M. Yeomans, Amin Doostmohammadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Interactions between microorganisms and their complex flowing environments are essential in many biological systems. We develop a model for microswimmer dynamics in non-Newtonian Poiseuille flows. We predict that swimmers in shear-thickening (-thinning) fluids migrate upstream more (less) quickly than in Newtonian fluids and demonstrate that viscoelastic normal stress differences reorient swimmers causing them to migrate upstream at the centerline, in contrast to well-known boundary accumulation in quiescent Newtonian fluids. Based on these observations, we suggest a sorting mechanism to select microbes by swimming speed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number028104
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2016


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