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Biol Cell. 1988;63(2):127-31.

Flagellar wave reversal in the kinetoplastid flagellate Crithidia oncopelti.

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Department of Physics, University of London, UK.


Living Crithidia oncopelti cells swim through their environment by means of tip-to-base waves on their single flagellum. The cells are able to re-orient themselves by using a short burst of asymmetrical base-to-tip waves. All points on a flagellum are capable of initiating waves. Placing a population of cells in a medium of high viscosity initially produces a large number of organisms beating in the reverse mode. An individual cell has a random "switching" behavior. Viscosity affects the frequency of forward and reverse waves in different ways. The concentration of free Ca++ ions determines the direction of wave propagation in reactivated axonemes. Calmodulin may play a role in mediating the Ca++ dependence of wave direction.

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