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Escherichia coli as a model active colloid: A practical introduction

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-16
Number of pages15
JournalColloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


The flagellated bacterium Escherichia coli is increasingly used experimentally as a self-propelled swimmer. To obtain meaningful, quantitative results that are comparable between different laboratories, reproducible protocols are needed to control, 'tune' and monitor the swimming behaviour of these motile cells. We critically review the knowledge needed to do so, explain methods for characterising the colloidal and motile properties of E. coli cells, and propose a protocol for keeping them swimming at constant speed at finite bulk concentrations. In the process of establishing this protocol, we use motility as a high-throughput probe of aspects of cellular physiology via the coupling between swimming speed and the proton motive force.

    Research areas

  • Active colloids, Bioenergetics, Differential dynamic microscopy, Escherichia coli, Metabolism, Motility, Proton motive force

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