The eukaryotic flagellum beats periodically, driven by the oscillatory dynamics of molecular motors, to propel cells and pump fluids. Small but perceivable fluctuations in the beat of individual flagella have physiological implications for synchronization in collections of flagella as well as for hydrodynamic interactions between flagellated swimmers. Here, we characterize phase and amplitude fluctuations of flagellar bending waves using shape mode analysis and limit-cycle reconstruction. We report a quality factor of flagellar oscillations Q=38.0±16.7 (mean±s.e.). Our analysis shows that flagellar fluctuations are dominantly of active origin. Using a minimal model of collective motor oscillations, we demonstrate how the stochastic dynamics of individual motors can give rise to active small-number fluctuations in motor-cytoskeleton systems.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)