Bayly and his colleagues will use a high-speed video imaging technique in Shao's lab to get high resolution images of the flagella waves, then analyze the images to estimate its forces through fluid.
"Dr. Shao has a system called an optical trap which uses a laser beam to pin a bead in fluid; it takes a force to move the bead away from the laser beam," Bayly says. "We will use the flagella to grab onto the bead and try to move it. By seeing how much the bead deflects and how much the flagella deflects, we can get an idea of the stiffness of the flagella. We're very lucky to have a collaborator with this equipment and expertise."
Cilia move fluid through numerous passageways, making them critical to development, reproduction and preventing infection. But they move without a brain, Bayly says.
"That cilia conduct this autonomous behavior without a central nervous system is really quite astounding," Bayly says. "The same mechanism that moves cilia in the airway also makes sperm swim. If we could recreate this in a manmade device, it could be very useful, especially if we were working on a nano- or micron scale. If we could understand this coordination scheme, the potential for harnessing it is fascinating."
This project also will allow undergraduate students from Washington University and the University of Central Oklahoma to participate in summer research. Okamoto will work with these students to create an "axobot," a large-scale model of the algae flagella, which are less than half a micron in diameter and about 10 microns long, or about the width of a red blood cell. Like waves in a bowl of gelatin, the large-scale model will help students visualize and explore how the flagella moves.
Once created, the axobot will be used for demonstrations and activities in outreach programs, including Youth University, Explore Engineering and Women in
|Contact: Neil Schoenherr|
Washington University in St. Louis