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Methods Cell Biol. 2009;91:173-239. doi: 10.1016/S0091-679X(08)91011-6. Epub 2009 Dec 1.

Analysis of the ciliary/flagellar beating of Chlamydomonas.

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Department of Physics, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York 13244-1130, USA.


Eukaryotic flagella and cilia are alternative names, for the slender cylindrical protrusions of a cell (240nm diameter, approximately 12,800nm-long in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii) that propel a cell or move fluid. Cilia are extraordinarily successful complex organelles abundantly found in animals performing many tasks. They play a direct or developmental role in the sensors of fluid flow, light, sound, gravity, smells, touch, temperature, and taste in mammals. The failure of cilia can lead to hydrocephalus, infertility, and blindness. However, in spite of their large role in human function and pathology, there is as yet no consensus on how cilia beat and perform their many functions, such as moving fluids in brain ventricles and lungs and propelling and steering sperm, larvae, and many microorganisms. One needs to understand and analyze ciliary beating and its hydrodynamic interactions. This chapter provides a guide for measuring, analyzing, and interpreting ciliary behavior in various contexts studied in the model system of Chlamydomonas. It describes: (1) how cilia work as self-organized beating structures (SOBSs), (2) the overlaid control in the cilia that optimizes the SOBS to achieve cell dispersal, phototaxis steering, and avoidance of obstacles, (3) the assay of a model intracellular signal processing system that responds to multiple external and internal inputs, choosing mode of behavior and then controlling the cilia, (4) how cilia sense their environment, and (5) potentially an assay of ciliary performance for toxicology or medical assessment.

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