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Engineers Track Bacteria's Kayak Paddle-like Motion For First Time

Yale engineers have for the first time observed and tracked E. coli bacteria moving in a liquid medium with a motion similar to that of a kayak paddle.

Their findings, which appear online September 29 in the journal Physical Review Letters, will help lead to a better understanding of how bacteria move from place to place and, potentially, how to keep them from spreading.

Scientists have long theorized that the cigar-shaped cell bodies of E. coli and other microorganisms would follow periodic orbits that resemble the motion of a kayak paddle as they drift downstream in a current. Until now, no one had managed to directly observe or track those movements.

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