Volvox barberi, the fastest swimmer of the Volvocales (Chlorophyceae)

Cristian A. Solari, Richard E. Michod, Raymond E. Goldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Volvox barberi W. Shaw is a volvocalean green alga composed of biflagellated cells. Vovocales with 16 cells or more form spherical colonies, and their largest members have germ-soma separation (all species in the genus Volvox). V. barberi is the largest Volvox species recorded in terms of cell number (10,000-50,000 cells) and has the highest somatic to reproductive cell ratio (S/R). Since they are negatively buoyant, Volvocales need flagellar beating to avoid sinking and to reach light and nutrients. We measured V. barberi swimming speed and total swimming force. V. barberi swimming speeds are the highest recorded so far for volvocine algae (∼600 μm·s -1). With this speed, V. barberi colonies have the potential to perform daily vertical migrations in the water column at speeds of 2-3 m·h-1, consistent with what has been reported about Volvox populations in the wild. Moreover, V. barberi data fit well in the scaling relationships derived with the other smaller Volvox species, namely, that the upward swimming speed Vup ∝ N 0.28 and the total swimming force FS ∝ N 0.77 (N = colony cell number). These allometric relationships have been important supporting evidence for reaching the conclusion that as size increases, colonies have to invest in cell specialization and increase their S/R to increase their motility capabilities to stay afloat and motile.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1395-1398
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Phycology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Hydrodynamics
  • Motility
  • Multicellularity
  • Swimming speeds
  • Volvocales
  • Volvox barberi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science


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