Fluid dynamics at the scale of the cell
The world of cellular biology provides us with many fascinating fluid dynamical phenomena that lie at the heart of physiology, development, evolution and ecology. Advances in imaging, micromanipulation and microfluidics over the past decade have made possible high-precision measurements of such flows, providing tests of microhydrodynamic theories and revealing a wealth of new phenomena calling out for explanation. Here I summarize progress in four areas within the field of ‘active matter’: cytoplasmic streaming in plant cells, synchronization of eukaryotic flagella, interactions between swimming cells and surfaces and collective behaviour in suspensions of microswimmers. Throughout, I emphasize open problems in which fluid dynamical methods are key ingredients in an interdisciplinary approach to the mysteries of life.