Next Article in Journal
Bioinspired Metal–Polyphenol Materials: Self-Healing and Beyond
Previous Article in Journal
Implementation of Deep Deterministic Policy Gradients for Controlling Dynamic Bipedal Walking
Open AccessArticle

Cell Shape and Surface Colonisation in the Diatom Genus Cocconeis—An Opportunity to Explore Bio-Inspired Shape Packing?

School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Distillery Fields, North Mall Campus, University College Cork, T23 N73K Cork, Ireland
Biomimetics 2019, 4(2), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/biomimetics4020029
Received: 6 March 2019 / Revised: 25 March 2019 / Accepted: 27 March 2019 / Published: 31 March 2019
Optimal packing of 2 and 3-D shapes in confined spaces has long been of practical and theoretical interest, particularly as it has been discovered that rotatable ellipses (or ellipsoids in the 3-D case) can, for example, have higher packing densities than disks (or spheres in the 3-D case). Benthic diatoms, particularly those of the genus Cocconeis (Ehr.)—which are widely regarded as prolific colonisers of immersed surfaces—often have a flattened (adnate) cell shape and an approximately elliptical outline or “footprint” that allows them to closely contact the substratum. Adoption of this shape may give these cells a number of advantages as they colonise surfaces, such as a higher packing fraction for colonies on a surface for more efficient use of limited space, or an increased contact between individual cells when cell abundances are high, enabling the cells to minimize energy use and maximize packing (and biofilm) stability on a surface. Here, the outline shapes of individual diatom cells are measured using scanning electron and epifluorescence microscopy to discover if the average cell shape compares favourably with those predicted by theoretical modelling of efficient 2-D ellipse packing. It is found that the aspect ratio of measured cells in close association in a biofilm—which are broadly elliptical in shape—do indeed fall within the range theoretically predicted for optimal packing, but that the shape of individual diatoms also differ subtly from that of a true ellipse. The significance of these differences for optimal packing of 2-D shapes on surfaces is not understood at present, but may represent an opportunity to further explore bio-inspired design shapes for the optimal packing of shapes on surfaces. View Full-Text
Keywords: diatoms; biofilms; interfaces; ellipse; optimal packing; biomimetics diatoms; biofilms; interfaces; ellipse; optimal packing; biomimetics
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

Sullivan, T. Cell Shape and Surface Colonisation in the Diatom Genus Cocconeis—An Opportunity to Explore Bio-Inspired Shape Packing? Biomimetics 2019, 4, 29.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop