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Gyrotactic phytoplankton in laminar and turbulent flows: A dynamical systems approach

  • Massimo Cencini
  • Guido Boffetta
  • Matteo Borgnino
  • Filippo De LilloEmail author
Topical Review
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Flowing Matter, Problems and Applications

Abstract.

Gyrotactic algae are bottom heavy, motile cells whose swimming direction is determined by a balance between a buoyancy torque directing them upwards and fluid velocity gradients. Gyrotaxis has, in recent years, become a paradigmatic model for phytoplankton motility in flows. The essential attractiveness of this peculiar form of motility is the availability of a mechanistic description which, despite its simplicity, revealed predictive, rich in phenomenology, easily complemented to include the effects of shape, feedback on the fluid and stochasticity (e.g., in cell orientation). In this review we consider recent theoretical, numerical and experimental results to discuss how, depending on flow properties, gyrotaxis can produce inhomogeneous phytoplankton distributions on a wide range of scales, from millimeters to kilometers, in both laminar and turbulent flows. In particular, we focus on the phenomenon of gyrotactic trapping in nonlinear shear flows and in fractal clustering in turbulent flows. We shall demonstrate the usefulness of ideas and tools borrowed from dynamical systems theory in explaining and interpreting these phenomena.

Graphical abstract

Keywords

Topical issue: Flowing Matter, Problems and Applications 

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Copyright information

© EDP Sciences, Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Massimo Cencini
    • 1
    • 2
  • Guido Boffetta
    • 3
  • Matteo Borgnino
    • 3
  • Filippo De Lillo
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Istituto dei Sistemi Complessi, CNRRomaItaly
  2. 2.INFN Tor VergataRomaItaly
  3. 3.Dipartimento di Fisica and INFNUniversità di TorinoTorinoItaly

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