Microorganisms can swim out of fatal dead end

Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs

Microorganisms can swim their way out of a dead end where cells would otherwise meet their demise, according to researchers from Tohoku University.

Although microorganisms are too tiny to be seen by the naked eye, experiments conducted by Takuji Ishikawa and Kenji Kikuchi from the Graduate School of Engineering at Tohoku University found that many kinds of microorganisms with hair-like organelle called cilia tended to escape from the dead end line more by hydrodynamics than by a biological reaction.

“Results from the experiment could explain how infectious diseases spread.“

In the case of hydrodynamic escape, the cell trajectories were symmetric as they swam to and from the dead end line.

Near the dead end line, T. thermophila cells were compressed between the two flat plates while cilia kept beating with reduced frequency; those cells again showed symmetric trajectories, although the swimming velocity decreased.

The report’s authors believe their findings pave the way for understanding cell behaviour and how infectious diseases spread.

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