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Edge current and pairing order transition in chiral bacterial vortices [Biophysics and Computational Biology]
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America  (IF11.205),  Pub Date : 2021-09-28, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2107461118
Kazusa Beppu, Ziane Izri, Tasuku Sato, Yoko Yamanishi, Yutaka Sumino, Yusuke T. Maeda

Bacterial suspensions show turbulence-like spatiotemporal dynamics and vortices moving irregularly inside the suspensions. Understanding these ordered vortices is an ongoing challenge in active matter physics, and their application to the control of autonomous material transport will provide significant development in microfluidics. Despite the extensive studies, one of the key aspects of bacterial propulsion has remained elusive: The motion of bacteria is chiral, i.e., it breaks mirror symmetry. Therefore, the mechanism of control of macroscopic active turbulence by microscopic chirality is still poorly understood. Here, we report the selective stabilization of chiral rotational direction of bacterial vortices in achiral circular microwells sealed by an oil/water interface. The intrinsic chirality of bacterial swimming near the top and bottom interfaces generates chiral collective motions of bacteria at the lateral boundary of the microwell that are opposite in directions. These edge currents grow stronger as bacterial density increases, and, within different top and bottom interfaces, their competition leads to a global rotation of the bacterial suspension in a favored direction, breaking the mirror symmetry of the system. We further demonstrate that chiral edge current favors corotational configurations of interacting vortices, enhancing their ordering. The intrinsic chirality of bacteria is a key feature of the pairing order transition from active turbulence, and the geometric rule of pairing order transition may shed light on the strategy for designing chiral active matter.