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Could cell membranes produce acoustic streaming? Making the case for synechococcus self-propulsion
Ehlers, Kurt M.; Koiller, Jair
Centre de Recerca Matemàtica
Sir James Lighthill proposed in 1992 that acoustic streaming occurs in the inner ear, as part of the cochlear amplifier mechanism. Here we hypothesize that some of the most ancient organisms use acoustic streaming not only for self-propulsion but also to enhance their nutrient uptake. We focus on a motile strain of Synechococcus, a yanobacteria whose mechanism for self-propulsion is not known. Molecular motors could work like piezoelectric transducers acting on the crystalline structure surrounding the outer cell membrane. Our calculations show that a traveling surface acoustic wave (SAW)could account for the observed velocities. These SAW waves will also produce a non-negligible Stokes layer surrounding the cell: motion within this region being essentially chaotic. Therefore, an AS mechanism would be biologically advantageous, enhancing localized diffusion processes and consequently, chemical reactions. We believe that acoustic streaming, produced by nanometer scale membrane vibrations could be widespread in cell biology. Other possible instances are yeast cells and erythrocytes. Flows generated by acoustic streaming may also be produced by silica coated diatoms along their raphe. We note that microelectromechanical (MEMS) acoustic streaming devices were first introduced in the 1990’s. Nature may have preceded this invention by 2.7 Gyr.
2009-10
531/534 - Mecànica. Vibracions. Acústica
Mecànica de fluids
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