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Cilia patterning and dynamics

Biological microswimmers generate hydrodynamical flow field based on the beating patterns of surface motile cilia, a highly conserved microtubule-based organelles found throughout the animal kingdom. When synchronized, the beating patterns of arrays of cilia generate organized hydrodynamic flow fields to serve crucial biological functions. Sea star embryo which undergoes complex morphological changes during early development also exhibit intricate evolution in their cilia-driven hydrodynamic flow field, making it an attractive model to study collective behavior of ciliary arrays and bands under a wide range of geometrical and topological constraints.


The lab is interested in two general directions:

  1. Structurally, how is the orientation of cilia beating plane arranged? Ciliary beating plane is often regulated by planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway, which is in turn controlled by upstream morphogen. Here, we will investigate how developmental signaling regulates PCP and determines the cilia orientation field at the different stages of sea star embryogenesis.

  2. Dynamically, how do cilia beating patterns coordinate? It is well known that hydrodynamical coupling between cilia gives rise to metachronal waves on flat 2D surfaces. However, ciliary arrays on sea star embryos are spread over curved surfaces in different configurations. Here, we will determine the cilia beating shape (in-plane vs rotary), how ciliary beating is synchronized on surfaces of different curvatures, and whether defects in the beating phase arise.

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