Microorganisms, particularly parasites, have developed sophisticated swimming mechanisms to cope with a varied range of environments. African Trypanosomes, causative agents of fatal illness in humans and animals, use an insect vector (the Tsetse fly) to infect mammals, involving many developmental changes in which cell motility is of prime importance. Our studies reveal that differences in cell body shape are correlated with a diverse range of cell behaviors contributing to the directional motion of the cell. Straighter cells swim more directionally while cells that exhibit little net displacement appear to be more bent. Initiation of cell division, beginning with the emergence of a second flagellum at the base, correlates to directional persistence. Cell trajectory and rapid body fluctuation correlation analysis uncovers two characteristic relaxation times: a short relaxation time due to strong body distortions in the range of 20 to 80 ms and a longer time associated with the persistence in average swimming direction in the order of 15 seconds. Different motility modes, possibly resulting from varying body stiffness, could be of consequence for host invasion during distinct infective stages. © 2011 Uppaluri et al.
Uppaluri, S., Nagler, J., Stellamanns, E., Heddergott, N., Herminghaus, S., Engstler, M., & Pfohl, T. (2011). Impact of microscopic motility on the swimming behavior of parasites: Straighter Trypanosomes are more directional. PLoS Computational Biology, 7(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002058