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Title: Emergent Collective Locomotion in an Active Polymer Model of Entangled Worm Blobs
Numerous worm and arthropod species form physically-connected aggregations in which interactions among individuals give rise to emergent macroscale dynamics and functionalities that enhance collective survival. In particular, some aquatic worms such as the California blackworm ( Lumbriculus variegatus ) entangle their bodies into dense blobs to shield themselves against external stressors and preserve moisture in dry conditions. Motivated by recent experiments revealing emergent locomotion in blackworm blobs, we investigate the collective worm dynamics by modeling each worm as a self-propelled Brownian polymer. Though our model is two-dimensional, compared to real three-dimensional worm blobs, we demonstrate how a simulated blob can collectively traverse temperature gradients via the coupling between the active motion and the environment. By performing a systematic parameter sweep over the strength of attractive forces between worms, and the magnitude of their directed self-propulsion, we obtain a rich phase diagram which reveals that effective collective locomotion emerges as a result of finely balancing a tradeoff between these two parameters. Our model brings the physics of active filaments into a new meso- and macroscale context and invites further theoretical investigation into the collective behavior of long, slender, semi-flexible organisms.
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Award ID(s):
1941933 1817334 1933283
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Frontiers in Physics
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  2. Abstract

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