Computation of the internal forces in cilia: Application to ciliary motion, the effects of viscosity, and cilia interactions

Shay Gueron, Konstantin Levit-Gurevich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents a simple and reasonable method for generating a phenomenological model of the internal mechanism of cilia. The model uses a relatively small number of parameters whose values can be obtained by fitting to ciliary beat shapes. Here, we use beat patterns observed in Paramecium. The forces that generate these beats are computed and fit to a simple functional form called the 'engine.' This engine is incorporated into a recently developed hydrodynamic model that accounts for interaction between neighboring cilia and between the cilia and the surface from which they emerge. The model results are compared to data on ciliary beat patterns of Paramecium obtained under conditions where the beats are two-dimensional. Many essential features of the motion, including several properties that are not build in explicitly, are shown to be captured. In particular, the model displays a realistic change in beat pattern and frequency in response to increased viscosity and to the presence of neighboring cilia in configurations such as rows of cilia and two-dimensional arrays of cilia. We found that when two adjacent model cilia start beating at different phases they become synchronized within several beat periods, as observed in experiments where two flagelia are brought to close proximity. Furthermore, examination of various multiciliary configurations shows that an approximately antiplectic have pattern evolves autonomously. This modeling evidence supports earlier conjectures that metachronism may occur, at least partially, as a self-organized phenomenon due to hydrodynamic interactions between neighboring cilia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1658-1676
Number of pages19
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the U.S.–Israel Binational Science Foundation Grant 94-242, by the Technion V.P.R. fund, and by the Fund for the Promotion of Research at the Technion. S. Gueron acknowledges the support of the Henri Gutwirth Fund for the Promotion of Research.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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