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Synchronisation of eukaryotic flagella

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Ed Brambley.

From unicellular organisms as small as a few microns to the largest vertebrates on earth we find groups of beating flagella or cilia that exhibit striking spatio-temporal organization. This may take the form of precise frequency and phase locking as frequently found in the swimming of green algae, or beating with long-wavelength phase modulations known as metachronal waves, seen in ciliates such as Paramecium and in our own respiratory systems. The remarkable similarity in the underlying molecular structure of flagella across the whole eukaryotic world leads naturally to the hypothesis that a similarly universal mechanism might be responsible for synchronization. Although this mechanism is poorly understood, one appealing hypothesis is that it results from hydrodynamic interactions between flagella. In this lecture I will discuss recent results using green algae as model organisms which provide the strongest evidence yet for the elastohydrodynamic origin of synchronisation.

This talk is part of the Fluid Mechanics (DAMTP) series.

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