The importance of being motile and the mathematics of microswimming, a talk by Dr Kirsty Wan (University of Exeter)
Since the invention of the microscope, scientists have known that pond-dwelling algae can actually swim – powering their way through the fluid at several times their own body size per second using tiny limbs called cilia and flagella. Only recently has it become clear that these tiny structures are the very same cilia that drive many important physiological and developmental processes within the human body. Motivated by this connection, we shall explore flagella-mediated swimming gaits in diverse species of algae, and demonstrate how mathematical theory can provide the key to differentiating between different behaviours. Stochastic bifurcations between different modes of swimming are visualised at high spatiotemporal resolution, and dynamic changes in flagellar beating shown to elicit trajectory reorientation and responsive navigation in these primitive microorganisms.
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