Rhythmicity, recurrence, and recovery of flagellar beating

Phys Rev Lett. 2014 Dec 5;113(23):238103. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.113.238103. Epub 2014 Dec 2.


The eukaryotic flagellum beats with apparently unfailing periodicity, yet responds rapidly to stimuli. Like the human heartbeat, flagellar oscillations are now known to be noisy. Using the alga C. reinhardtii, we explore three aspects of nonuniform flagellar beating. We report the existence of rhythmicity, waveform noise peaking at transitions between power and recovery strokes, and fluctuations of interbeat intervals that are correlated and even recurrent, with memory extending to hundreds of beats. These features are altered qualitatively by physiological perturbations. Further, we quantify the recovery of periodic breaststroke beating from transient hydrodynamic forcing. These results will help constrain microscopic theories on the origins and regulation of flagellar beating.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / physiology
  • Flagella / physiology*
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Models, Biological*
  • Periodicity*