The diversity of the morphologies, propulsion mechanisms, flow environments, and behaviors of planktonic microorganisms has long provided inspiration for fluid physicists, with further intrigue provided by the counterintuitive hydrodynamics of their viscous world. Motivation for studying the fluid dynamics of microplankton abounds, as microorganisms support the food web and control the biogeochemistry of most aquatic environments, particularly the oceans. In this review, we discuss the fluid physics governing the locomotion and feeding of individual planktonic microorganisms (⩽1mm). In the past few years, the field has witnessed an increasing number of exciting discoveries, from the visualization of the flow field around individual swimmers to linkages between microhydrodynamic processes and ecosystem dynamics. In other areas, chiefly the ability of microorganisms to take up nutrients and sense hydromechanical signals, our understanding will benefit from reinvigorated interest, and ample opportunities for breakthroughs exist. When it comes to the fluid mechanics of living organisms, there is plenty of room at the bottom.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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