Simple mechanosense and response of cilia motion reveal the intrinsic habits of ciliates

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Mar 27;115(13):3231-3236. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1718294115. Epub 2018 Mar 12.


An important habit of ciliates, namely, their behavioral preference for walls, is revealed through experiments and hydrodynamic simulations. A simple mechanical response of individual ciliary beating (i.e., the beating is stalled by the cilium contacting a wall) can solely determine the sliding motion of the ciliate along the wall and result in a wall-preferring behavior. Considering ciliate ethology, this mechanosensing system is likely an advantage in the single cell's ability to locate nutrition. In other words, ciliates can skillfully use both the sliding motion to feed on a surface and the traveling motion in bulk water to locate new surfaces according to the single "swimming" mission.

Keywords: ciliates; mechanosense of cilia; swimming motility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cilia / physiology
  • Ciliophora / cytology
  • Ciliophora / physiology*
  • Fluorescence
  • Locomotion
  • Models, Biological*
  • Tetrahymena pyriformis / cytology*
  • Tetrahymena pyriformis / physiology
  • Water


  • Water