Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Green algae move to the beat: Flagellar synchronization of swimming algae explained

Date:
October 25, 2013
Source:
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Summary:
Researchers explain the flagellar synchronization of swimming algae. The beating of flagella is one of the basic principles of movement in the cellular cosmos. However, up to now, scientists were unsure as to how the movements of several of these small cellular appendages are synchronized.

The green alga is a microscopic breaststroke swimmer. The movements of its two flagella are synchronised by mechanical forces: its swimming strokes slow down or accelerate, depending on how the cell rocks while swimming.
Credit: MPI-CBG, Dresden

The beating of flagella is one of the basic principles of movement in the cellular cosmos. However, up to now, scientists were unsure as to how the movements of several of these small cellular appendages are synchronised. Dresden-based researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics and the MPI for the Physics of Complex Systems have now succeeded in demonstrating how the green alga Chlamydomonas synchronises the movements of its two flagella using a resourceful rocking movement.

Related Articles


To do this, the researchers started by developing a theoretical model which they were then able to substantiate in experiments with the microscopic breaststroke swimmers: when the two flagella lose their rhythm, the cell begins to rock. This causes the swimming movements to slow down or accelerate. The resulting synchronisation mechanism is based solely on the coupling of the two movements of the body and the flagella; no special sensors or chemical signals are needed.

"An alga is a wonderful model for investigating our research question because, with its two flagella, it shows us very clearly how several of these appendage-like structures are synchronised using mechanical forces alone," says Benjamin Friedrich from the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems who headed the studies. How tens of thousands of molecular engines work together to set flagella in motion and synchronise them is a matter of great interest, as this mechanism underlies numerous processes: "The tiny cellular appendages are one of nature's greatest hits: they drive sperm and form big conveyor belts in the fallopian tubes and airways," explains Friedrich.

The cellular extensions, which are a mere ten micrometres long, beat around 30 times per second. In a flat observation chamber, the researchers allowed the single-celled green algae Chlamydomonas to swim around under their microscope lenses and then evaluated the swimming and bending movements on the microscope films: "From these films, we are able to reconstruct all of the mechanical forces at work in detail," says Friedrich. When the load increases, the flagellum beats more slowly -- just like a car engine that has to negotiate an incline. The strength and speed of the beat are linked to the movement of the body. This load dependency synchronises the beats of the two flagella and thus eliminates the need for special sensors or chemical signals.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Veikko F. Geyer, Frank Jόlicher, Jonathon Howard, and Benjamin M. Friedrich. Cell-body rocking is a dominant mechanism for flagellar synchronization in a swimming alga. PNAS, October 21, 2013 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1300895110

Cite This Page:

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Green algae move to the beat: Flagellar synchronization of swimming algae explained." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131025113805.htm>.
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. (2013, October 25). Green algae move to the beat: Flagellar synchronization of swimming algae explained. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131025113805.htm
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Green algae move to the beat: Flagellar synchronization of swimming algae explained." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131025113805.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) — A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins