Natural Sciences >> Integrative Biology


by Tabitha Nandkishorelal


Submitted : Fall 2011

The work provided below is a study of how flagellum, a complex and microscopic organism, moves in biological environments such as bacteria or sperm cells. The primary function of flagellum is motility. A brief view of the complexity of the structure of the head of flagellum was observed which led into understanding the frequency of motion in regards to the tail portion of flagellum that was being analyzed. The frequency of rotation of the tail was also considered. Flagellum has the ability to change its direction from counter clockwise to clockwise in less than a second, and the ability to move in random there dimensional patterns.

As seen in the diagram of the flagellum head the motor is composted of over twenty-four parts which include the driving shaft (rod), bushing (L-ring and P-ring), stator (proton channel), rotor (S-ring and M-ring), and C-ring (switch regulator). The motor of flagellum was found to be twenty five nanometers (DeVowe 2004). An estimated amount of eight million of the flagella motors would be able to easily fit on a single strand of human hair. This complex motor enables the tail of the flagellum to move and provide motility. The frequency of the tails movement was determined and supported by calculus based calculations to find that the planer as well as helical head had quite different results. The planar flagellum head was less efficient in propelling the movement of the tail as compared to the helical head. Once the formulas had been fully calculated the graphs were created which supported the efficiency of the helical head versus the planar flagellum head. The graph of the helical head had a significantly larger slope. Along the cytoplasmic membrane there are sensory membranes that sense the slightest change in stimuli concentration which can vary from light, to oxygen, or even chemicals (Soll, Wessels 1998). These stimuli control cytoplasmic phosphoproteins which have binding functions to the motor of flagellum which control the changes in counter clockwise to clockwise movement. The motility of flagellum in at a microscopic level with speeds as high as one hundred thousand revolutions per minute (DeWowe 2004). Flagellum is a microscopic organism whose complexity has not yet been fully explained by evolutionist. Flagellum’s design might be explained in its entirety in the distant future coupled with technological advancements but the possibilities of being formed from a higher being is quite possible.



[ Back ]

Advisors :
Arcadii Grinshpan, Mathematics and Statistics
Jonathan Burns, Mathematics and Statistics
Gordon Fox, Integrative Biology
Suggested By :
Sean Allen