Diversity of flagellate swimming gaits

Condensed Matter lunchtime seminar

Diversity of flagellate swimming gaits

  • Event time: 1:00pm until 2:00pm
  • Event date: 6th February 2017
  • Speaker: Dr Kirsty Wan (University of Cambridge)
  • Location: Room 2511,

Event details

Self-propulsion by flagella through a typically fluid medium is a significant selective advantage for microorganisms which possess such capabilities. In species of bacteria, flagella bundle behind a rod shaped cell to propel or push the organism forward. In contrast, the model biflagellate alga C. reinhardtii uses two near-identical flagella to pull itself through the fluid -- executing a breaststroke. In reality neither gait is stereotypical, and instead across flagellate lifeforms there is an unprecedented diversity. Here we explore the implications of this diversity for unicellular algae that have powers of two flagella in terms of their respective swimming gaits, correlating this with a species-specific intracellular architecture. By analogy with limbed locomotion, we show that microalgae likewise rely on flagella to elicit responsive navigation through its surroundings.

This is a weekly series of informal talks given primarily by members of the soft condensed matter and statistical mechanics groups, but is also open to members of other groups and external visitors. The aim of the series is to promote discussion and learning of various topics at a level suitable to the broad background of the group. Everyone is welcome to attend..

Find out more about Condensed Matter lunchtime seminars.