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Micromachines 2017, 8(1), 4;

Vorticella: A Protozoan for Bio-Inspired Engineering

Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588, USA
Department of Physics, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA 98416, USA
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Toyohashi University of Technology, Toyohashi 441-8580, Japan
National Institute of Standards and Technology, Boulder, CO 80305, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Hyoung Jin Cho and Sung Kwon Cho
Received: 28 October 2016 / Revised: 4 December 2016 / Accepted: 20 December 2016 / Published: 26 December 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio-Inspired Micro/Nano Devices and Systems)
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In this review, we introduce Vorticella as a model biological micromachine for microscale engineering systems. Vorticella has two motile organelles: the oral cilia of the zooid and the contractile spasmoneme in the stalk. The oral cilia beat periodically, generating a water flow that translates food particles toward the animal at speeds in the order of 0.1–1 mm/s. The ciliary flow of Vorticella has been characterized by experimental measurement and theoretical modeling, and tested for flow control and mixing in microfluidic systems. The spasmoneme contracts in a few milliseconds, coiling the stalk and moving the zooid at 15–90 mm/s. Because the spasmoneme generates tension in the order of 10–100 nN, powered by calcium ion binding, it serves as a model system for biomimetic actuators in microscale engineering systems. The spasmonemal contraction of Vorticella has been characterized by experimental measurement of its dynamics and energetics, and both live and extracted Vorticellae have been tested for moving microscale objects. We describe past work to elucidate the contraction mechanism of the spasmoneme, recognizing that past and continuing efforts will increase the possibilities of using the spasmoneme as a microscale actuator as well as leading towards bioinspired actuators mimicking the spasmoneme. View Full-Text
Keywords: Vorticella; oral cilia; feeding current; contractile stalk; spasmoneme; Ca2+-powered contraction; bioinspired engineering Vorticella; oral cilia; feeding current; contractile stalk; spasmoneme; Ca2+-powered contraction; bioinspired engineering

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Ryu, S.; Pepper, R.E.; Nagai, M.; France, D.C. Vorticella: A Protozoan for Bio-Inspired Engineering. Micromachines 2017, 8, 4.

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