Motility of Colonial Choanoflagellates and the Statistics of Aggregate Random Walkers

Kirkegaard, Julius Bier ; Marron, Alan Oliver ; Goldstein, Raymond Ethan (2016-01-22)


We illuminate the nature of the three-dimensional random walks of microorganisms composed of individual organisms adhered together. Such aggregate random walkers are typified by choanoflagellates, eukaryotes that are the closest living relatives of animals. In the colony-forming species Salpingoeca rosetta we show that the beating of each flagellum is stochastic and uncorrelated with others, and the vectorial sum of the flagellar propulsion manifests as stochastic helical swimming. A quantitative theory for these results is presented and species variability discussed.