Flagellates are unicellular organisms that use long, slender appendages (flagella) to create flows that propel them, support their nutrient and prey uptake, but also expose them to flow-sensing predators. It is largely unknown what the flagellar characteristics are optimized for and which strategies and functions they reflect. To address these questions we are working on a model in which we represent the cell as a solid sphere and the flagellar beat as a number of steady or time-varying point forces. We have recently used the model and observations on freely swimming individual flagellates to study the flagellar arrangement and beat pattern as a key trait in flagellates with two symmetrically arranged flagella. In the project you will use the model framework to describe near-cell flows and trajectories of other biologically important marine flagellates that swim with different numbers, arrangements, and beat patterns of their flagellar appendages.
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