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Phys Rev Lett. 2009 Oct 16;103(16):168103. Epub 2009 Oct 16.

Noise and synchronization in pairs of beating eukaryotic flagella.

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Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, Wilberforce Road, Cambridge CB3 0WA, United Kingdom.


It has long been conjectured that hydrodynamic interactions between beating eukaryotic flagella underlie their ubiquitous forms of synchronization; yet there has been no experimental test of this connection. The biflagellate alga Chlamydomonas is a simple model for such studies, as its two flagella are representative of those most commonly found in eukaryotes. Using micromanipulation and high-speed imaging, we show that the flagella of a C. reinhardtii cell present periods of synchronization interrupted by phase slips. The dynamics of slips and the statistics of phase-locked intervals are consistent with a low-dimensional stochastic model of hydrodynamically coupled oscillators, with a noise amplitude set by the intrinsic fluctuations of single flagellar beats.

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