Transitions in synchronization states of model cilia through basal-connection coupling

J R Soc Interface. 2018 Oct 10;15(147):20180450. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2018.0450.


Despite evidence for a hydrodynamic origin of flagellar synchronization between different eukaryotic cells, recent experiments have shown that in single multi-flagellated organisms, coordination hinges instead on direct basal body connections. The mechanism by which these connections lead to coordination, however, is currently not understood. Here, we focus on the model biflagellate Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, and propose a minimal model for the synchronization of its two flagella as a result of both hydrodynamic and direct mechanical coupling. A spectrum of different types of coordination can be selected, depending on small changes in the stiffness of intracellular couplings. These include prolonged in-phase and anti-phase synchronization, as well as a range of multi-stable states induced by spontaneous symmetry breaking of the system. Linking synchrony to intracellular stiffness could lead to the use of flagellar dynamics as a probe for the mechanical state of the cell.

Keywords: Chlamydomonas reinhardtii; cilia; cytoskeleton; flagella; microhydrodynamics; oscillators; synchronization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Flagella*
  • Models, Biological*