Berlin 2012 – wissenschaftliches Programm

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DY: Fachverband Dynamik und Statistische Physik

DY 12: Joint focus session (with BP): Statistics of Cellular Motion

DY 12.4: Topical Talk

Dienstag, 27. März 2012, 11:00–11:30, H 1028

Medley swimming of sleeping sickness parasites — •Vasily Zaburdaev1, Sravanti Uppaluri2, Thomas Pfohl3, Markus Engstler4, Rudolf Friedrich5, and Holger Stark61Harvard University, Cambridge, USA — 2Max-Planck-Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Göttingen, Germany — 3University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland — 4University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany — 5University of Münster, Münster, Germany — 6Technical University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Though cell locomotion has been examined almost since the discovery of the cell itself, advances in microscopy and biochemical studies have paved the way to a more fundamental understanding of cell motility. This work is a detailed, quantitative characterization of trypanosome motility. Trypanosomes, parasites responsible for deadly disease in humans and cattle, swim with the aid of an appendage called a flagellum. The flagellum, produces rapid undulatory movements that result in cell locomotion. We followed single trypanosomes in a homogeneous environment and found that cells that swim faster also exhibit stronger fluctuations in velocity. Statistical analysis allowed us to develop a mathematical model that could reproduce the diverse trajectories followed by the trypanosomes. Finally, we were able to show that the rapid movements of the body (with time scales on the order of 0.1s) are a result of an active process and thus cannot be described as simple thermal fluctuations. On the whole, such studies provide insight into basic mechanisms of motility, allow for modeling of cell movement, and may eventually even provide design ideas for artificial microswimmers.

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