Soft matter inspired by plants

Plants sensing and motility mechanisms offer unique strategies to design smart fluids and new soft materials. We first turn our attention to the remarkable flowing properties of the statoliths found in plant gravisensing. Recently, decisive progress has been made in our understanding of the flow of particulate media like granular media and macroscopic suspensions (Forterre & Pouliquen 2008, Boyer et al 2011, deGiuli 2015). Compared to these systems, two ingredients can affect the flowing behavior of micrometer-size particles like statoliths: fluctuation (either thermally activated or due to the surrounding living intracellular liquid) or short-range interaction forces. We have started to investigate the role of these two ingredients in model experiments and biomimetic systems to better understand the rheological and flowing behavior of dense suspensions close to jamming.