A statistical physics view of swarming bacteria

Avraham Be'er, Gil Ariel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Bacterial swarming is a collective mode of motion in which cells migrate rapidly over surfaces, forming dynamic patterns of whirls and jets. This review presents a physical point of view of swarming bacteria, with an emphasis on the statistical properties of the swarm dynamics as observed in experiments. The basic physical principles underlying the swarm and their relation to contemporary theories of collective motion and active matter are reviewed and discussed in the context of the biological properties of swarming cells. We suggest a paradigm according to which bacteria have optimized some of their physical properties as a strategy for rapid surface translocation. In other words, cells take advantage of favorable physics, enabling efficient expansion that enhances survival under harsh conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalMovement Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s).


Partial supports from an EU/FP7 REA grant 321777, The Israel Science Foundation’s Grants No. 337/12 and No. 373/16 and The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (The German Research Foundation DFG) Grant No. HE5995/3–1 and Grant No. BA1222/7–1 are thankfully acknowledged.

FundersFunder number
Seventh Framework Programme321777
Deutsche ForschungsgemeinschaftBA1222/7–1, HE5995/3–1
Israel Science Foundation373/16, 337/12


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