Diffusivity of bacteria

  • 937 Accesses

  • 24 Citations


The effects of motility and aggregation on the diffusion coefficient for bacteria were studied in an aqueous system. The effects of cell concentrations, capillary tube sizes, and dilution rates on the diffusion coefficient were examined. In general, motile cells can diffuse about 1000 times faster than non-motile cells.Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a motile cell, andKlebsiella pneumoniae, a non-motile cell, were used for this research. Diffusion coefficients were measured by the capillary tube assay developed by Adler [1969]. From this procedure the diffusion coefficient ofPseudomonas aeruginosa was 2.1×10−5 (standard deviation: 1.0× 10−5) cm2/s and that ofKlebsiella pneumoniae was 0.9×10−5 (standard deviation : 0.5 × 10−5) cm2/s. The diffusion coefficient ofPseudomonas aeruginosa was about 2.3 times higher than that ofKlebsiella pneumoniae. The Stokes-Einstein equation could not be used for estimating the diffusion coefficients forKlebsiella pneumoniae andPseudomonas aeruginosa. The experimental value for the diffusion coefficient ofKlebsiella pneumoniae was about 2000 times higher than that (4.5×10−9 cm2/s) obtained from the Stokes-Einstein equation. This discrepancy was due to the aggregation ofKlebsiella pneumoniae.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Adler, J., “Chemoreceptors in Bacteria”,Science,166, 1588 (1969).

  2. Adler, J.,“A Method for Measuring Chemotaxis and Use of the Method to Determine Optimum Conditions for Chemotaxis byEscherichia coif, J. of General Microbiology,74, 77 (1973).

  3. Adler, J. and Margaret, M. D., “A Method for Measuring the Motility of Bacteria and for Comparing Random and Nonrandom Motility”,J. of General Microbiology,46, 161 (1967).

  4. Adler, J. and Bonnie Templeton,“The Effect of Environmental Conditions on the Motility ofEscherichia coli”,J. of General Microbiology,46, 175 (1967).

  5. Berg, H. and Brown, D., Chemotaxis inEscherichia coli Analyzed by Three-Dimensional Tracking”,Nature,239, 500 (1972).

  6. Bergey’s Manual of Determinative Bacteriology, 8th ed., Williams & Wilkins Company (1974).

  7. Dahlquist, F. W., Lovely, P. and Koshland, D. E.,“Quantitative Analysis of Bacterial Migration in Chemotaxis”,Nature New Biology,236, 120 (1972).

  8. Fahien, R.,“Fundamentals of Transport Phenomena”, McGraw-Hill Book Company (1983).

  9. Lovely, P. S. and Dahlquist, F. W.,“Statistical Measures of Bacterial Motility and Chemotaxis”,J. of Theoretical Biology,50, 477 (1975).

  10. Nossal, R. and Chen, S.,“Light Scattering from Motile Bacteria”,Journal de Physique,33(C1), 171 (1972).

  11. Nossal, R. and Weiss, G.,“Analysis of a Densitometry Assay for Bacterial Chemotaxis”,J. Theor. Biol.,41, 143(1973).

  12. Schneider, W. R. and Doetsch, R. N.,“Effect of Viscosity on Bacterial Motility”,J. of Bacteriology,117, 696 (1974).

  13. Segel, L. A., Ilan Chet, and Yigal Henis,“A Simple Quantitative Assay for Bacterial Motility”,J. of General Microbiology,98, 329 (1977).

  14. Shoesmith, J. G., “The Measurement of Bacterial Motility”,J. of General Microbiology,22, 528 (1960).

  15. Slater, N., Powell, M. and Johnson, P., The Relevance of Bacterial Motility to Fermenter Contamination: An Experimental Study forBacillus cereus”,Trans I ChemE,59, 170 (1981).

  16. Stock, G.,“The Measurement of Bacterial Translation by Photon Correlation Spectroscopy”,Biophys.,22, 79 (1978).

  17. Thonemann, P. C. and Evans, C. J., “The Dispersal of an Initial Concentration of Motile Bacteria”,J. of General Microbiology,92, 25 (1976).

  18. Vaituzis, Z. and Doetsch, R. N.,“Motility Tracks: Technique for Quantitative Study of Bacterial Movement ”,Applied Microbiology,17, 584(1969).

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kim, Y. Diffusivity of bacteria. Korean J. Chem. Eng. 13, 282–287 (1996) doi:10.1007/BF02705951

Download citation

Key words

  • Diffusivity
  • Bacteria
  • Aggregation
  • Motile
  • Non Motile