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Microorganism can escape from a dead end by swimming

2018/03/02

[Summary]
  • It has been unknown how tiny microorganisms can survive in intricate environments, such as in the ground and inside of the body.
  • Microorganisms with hair like organelle, cilia, can avoid entrapment at a dead end, where cells would never come back, and ingeniously escape from it by swimming.
  • The finding illustrates how microorganisms find a way to survive in a difficult situation, and paves a way to understand the mechanism of spreading of infectious diseases in the future.
[Contents]

Although microorganisms are too tiny to see by the naked eye, they are distributed all over the world and even inside of the human body. Despite its importance, it has been largely unknown how microorganisms can survive in intricate environments, such as in the ground and inside of the body.

Takuji Ishikawa (Professor in Graduate School of Engineering, Tohoku University) and Kenji Kikuchi (Associate Professor in the same graduate school) discovered that microorganisms with hair like organelle, cilia, can avoid entrapment at a dead end, where cells would never come back. By using the experiments and numerical simulations, they showed that microorganisms can ingeniously escape from a dead end by swimming. The nature to escape from a dead end can be found for many kinds of microorganisms with cilia. These results indicate that such a microorganism can survive even in intricate environments, where other creatures may become extinct, such as shallow water where a whale got stuck. The findings illustrate how microorganisms find a way to survive in a difficult situation, and pave a way to understand the mechanism of spreading of infectious diseases in the future.

This research is published on line in Proceedings of the Royal Society B on 28th February, 2018.

The study is financially supported by JSPS KAKENHI.


Image of microorganisms showing U-turn to escape from the dead end at the left side
[Publication Details:]
Title: Biomechanics of Tetrahymena escaping from a dead end
Authors: Takuji Ishikawa and Kenji Kikuchi
Journal: Proceedings of the Royal Society B, (2018) 20172368.
URL: http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/285/1873/20172368

[Contact]
Division of Public Relations, School of Engineering
E-mail:eng-pr@grp.tohoku.ac.jp

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