Structural mechanics of filamentous cyanobacteria

Faluweki, M.K. ORCID: 0000-0002-9542-9971 and Goehring, L. ORCID: 0000-0002-3858-7295, 2022. Structural mechanics of filamentous cyanobacteria. Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 19 (192): 20220268. ISSN 1742-5689

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Filamentous cyanobacteria, forming long strands of connected cells, are one of the earliest and most successful forms of life on Earth. They exhibit self-organised behaviour, forming large-scale patterns in structures like biomats and stromatolites. The mechanical properties of these rigid structures have contributed to their biological success and are important to applications like algae-based biofuel production. For active polymers like these cyanobacteria, one of the most important mechanical properties is the bending modulus, or flexural rigidity. Here, we quantify the bending stiffness of three species of filamentous cyanobacteria, of order Oscillatoriales, using a microfluidic flow device where single filaments are deflected by fluid flow. This is complemented by measurements of the Young's modulus of the cell wall, via nanoindentation, and the cell wall thickness. We find that the stiffness of the cyanobacteria is well-captured by a simple model of a flexible rod, with most stress carried by a rigid outer wall. Finally, we connect these results to the curved shapes that these cyanobacteria naturally take while gliding, and quantify the forces generated internally to maintain this shape. The measurements can be used to model interactions between cyanobacteria, or with their environment, and how their collective behaviour emerges from such interactions.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Journal of The Royal Society Interface
Creators: Faluweki, M.K. and Goehring, L.
Publisher: The Royal Society
Date: July 2022
Volume: 19
Number: 192
ISSN: 1742-5689
Rights: © 2022 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 29 Jul 2022 11:00
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2022 11:00

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