I'm looking for an example of bacteria that could receive ultrasound (at any ultrasound frequency) signal and possibly perform some (re)action afterwards.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ ... well it can break open the cells and kills them ... $\endgroup$
    – shigeta
    Sep 7, 2013 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ I know but maybe there is some ultrasound frequency that doesn't kill bacteria. $\endgroup$
    – syntagma
    Sep 7, 2013 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ I'm having a hard time thinking of any natural phenomena that produce ultrasound in which the bacteria could then transduce. If the frequency is not immediately lethal, I worry the heat transfer could be. $\endgroup$
    – user560
    Sep 7, 2013 at 18:14

1 Answer 1


I'm going to post a quick answer here, really a thought piece.

Usually to detect a sound wave you need a sounding board about the wavelength of the sound.

Bacteria are on the order of a few microns in length.

Ultrasound frequencies range from 2 to 200 MHz (and up I assume).

To have a wavelength on the order of 3 microns, a 100 MHz wave would be needed.

So only on the very high end of the range. If bacteria make sound though, they probably are on this frequency range.

I wonder if this has been looked at? Not sure it has. While in biology you never say never - if a bacterium really needs to pick up a wave it might have a clever adaptation to do so, but in the 100MHz + frequency range seems more likely.


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