Evaluation of bacterial run and tumble motility parameters through trajectory analysis

Xiaomeng Liang, Nanxi Lu, Lin Ching Chang, Thanh H. Nguyen, Arash Massoudieh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, a method for extraction of the behavior parameters of bacterial migration based on the run and tumble conceptual model is described. The methodology is applied to the microscopic images representing the motile movement of flagellated Azotobacter vinelandii. The bacterial cells are considered to change direction during both runs and tumbles as is evident from the movement trajectories. An unsupervised cluster analysis was performed to fractionate each bacterial trajectory into run and tumble segments, and then the distribution of parameters for each mode were extracted by fitting mathematical distributions best representing the data. A Gaussian copula was used to model the autocorrelation in swimming velocity. For both run and tumble modes, Gamma distribution was found to fit the marginal velocity best, and Logistic distribution was found to represent better the deviation angle than other distributions considered. For the transition rate distribution, log-logistic distribution and log-normal distribution, respectively, was found to do a better job than the traditionally agreed exponential distribution. A model was then developed to mimic the motility behavior of bacteria at the presence of flow. The model was applied to evaluate its ability to describe observed patterns of bacterial deposition on surfaces in a micro-model experiment with an approach velocity of 200 μm/s. It was found that the model can qualitatively reproduce the attachment results of the micro-model setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-38
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Bacterial motility
  • Flagella
  • Modeling
  • Run and tumble

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


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