Meeting Abstract

S4-5  Saturday, Jan. 5 10:00 - 10:30  Dynamics of a worm blob AYDIN, YO; CULVER, J; TENNENBAUM, M; GOLDMAN, DI; BHAMLA, MS*; Georgia Institute of Technology

Organisms across all length scales (from cells to humans) cluster and forms large social groups for evolutionary advantages. In some cases, aggregates exhibit and enable new functionalities: floating on water (fire ants), nest-building (bees) and mobbing predators (birds). In this talk, we describe new insight into aggregation behavior in worms, where hundreds of thousands of worms entangle together to form a large, wet, and squishy ‘blob’. These worm blobs have emergent viscoelastic properties of the collective – they can flow through tubes, while bouncing off hard substrates; they can ‘sense’ each other and merge; they can rapidly unknot and dissipate into individual units within a few seconds; and lastly the worm blob as a whole can break symmetry and move across substrates in response to external gradients.