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Theoretical and experimental dissection of gravity-dependent mechanical orientation in gravitactic microorganisms
Mogami, Y.; Ishii, J.; Baba, S.A. (2001). Theoretical and experimental dissection of gravity-dependent mechanical orientation in gravitactic microorganisms. Biol. Cell. 201: 26-33
In: Biology of the cell. Société française de microscopie électronique: Ivry-sur-Seine; Paris. ISSN 0248-4900, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Mogami, Y.
  • Ishii, J.
  • Baba, S.A.

Abstract
    Mechanisms of gravitactic behaviors of aquatic microorganisms were investigated in terms of their mechanical basis of gravity-dependent orientation. Two mechanical mechanisms have been considered as possible sources of the orientation torque generated on the inert body. One results from the differential density within an organism (the gravity- buoyancy model) and the other from the geometrical asymmetry of an organism (the drag-gravity model). We first introduced a simple theory that distinguishes between these models by measuring sedimentation of immobilized organisms in a medium of higher density than that of the origanisms. Ni 21 -immobilized cells of Paramecium caudatum oriented downwards while floating upwards in the Percoll-containing hyper-density medium but oriented up-wards while sinking in the hypo-density control medium. This means that the orientation of Paramecium is mechanically biased by the torque generated mainly due to the anterior location of the reaction center of hydrodynamic stress relative to those of buoyancy and gravity; thus the torque results from the geometrical fore-aft asymmetry and is described by the drag-gravity model. The same mechanical property was demonstrated in gastrula larvae of the sea urchin by observing the orientation during sedimentation of the KCN-immobilized larvae in media of different density: like the paramecia, the gastrulae oriented upwards in hypo-density medium and downwards in hyper-density medium. Immobilized pluteus larvae, however, oriented upwards regardless of the density of the medium. This indicates that the orientation of the pluteus is biased by the torque generated mainly due to the posterior location of the reaction center of gravity relative to those of buoyancy and hydro- dynamic stress; thus the torque results from the fore-aft asymmetry of the density distribution and is described by the gravity-buoyancy model. These observations indicate that, during development, sea urchin larvae change the mechanical mechanism for the gravitactic orientation. Evidence presented in the present paper demonstrates a definite relationship between the morphology and the gravitactic behavior of microorganisms.

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