New paper on swimming and feeding of mixotrophic biflagellates

Tuesday 31 Jan 17


Julia Dölger
DTU Physics


Anders Peter Andersen
Associate Professor
DTU Physics
+45 45 25 33 12
Imagine you are a microscopic cell with two thin “arms” and want to survive in the ocean. How should you arrange and move those appendages to swim fast and efficiently, to avoid predators, and to get enough food?

Unicellular planktonic organisms form an essential part of the marine ecosystem. Many of them possess flagella for swimming and to create currents improving the encounter with prey and nutrients. This movement however also leads to a higher predation risk due to flow-sensing predators. In this study we use observations on freely swimming individual flagellates and theoretical modeling to study the flagellar arrangement and beat pattern as a key trait in biflagellates with two symmetrically arranged flagella. We find that equatorial breast-stroke arrangements are advantageous for fast and stealthy swimming, but not for creating favorable currents for prey capture. The observed organisms are able to perform photosynthesis and dissolved nutrient uptake additionally to prey capture. We find this so-called mixotrophic strategy to be necessary for survival, since prey capture alone seems not to fulfill the energy needs of the organisms. 

Read the paper online here

Julia Dölger, Lasse Tor Nielsen, Thomas Kiørboe and Anders Andersen. Swimming and feeding of mixotrophic biflagellates. Scientific Reports 7, 39892 (2017)
24 MAY 2019