Coordination of Algal Cilia and Flagella

Kirsty Wan (University of Exeter)

Thursday 2nd November, 2017 14:00-15:00 Maths 311B


(Lunch with the speaker will be at One A The Square, leaving from the school front foyer at 12.45.)

In the year 1665 it was Huygens who had first perceived “an odd kind of sympathy” between two maritime clocks suspended side by side — a phenomenon we now refer to as “synchronization". The onset of synchronization or the emergence of particular phase relations between nonlinear oscillators has remained an object of deep fascination and scientific interest, ranging from neurobiology, electronics, to animal locomotion. Here, we will explore the diverse synchronization patterns of oscillating flagella (whip-like appendages akin to cilia) that are exhibited by species of algae. Performing a comparative study using organisms bearing few to many flagella, we reveal an unexpected dichotomy between active cellular control and passive hydrodynamics in the coordination of eukaryotic flagella.

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