Regular Article - Living Systems
Single-cell motile behaviour of in thin-layered fluid collectives
Lehrstuhl für Zell- und Entwicklungsbiologie, Biozentrum, Julius-Maximilians-Universität, Am Hubland, 97074, Würzburg, Germany
Accepted: 9 March 2021
Published online: 23 March 2021
We describe a system for the analysis of an important unicellular eukaryotic flagellate in a confining and crowded environment. The parasite Trypanosoma brucei is arguably one of the most versatile microswimmers known. It has unique properties as a single microswimmer and shows remarkable adaptations (not only in motility, but prominently so), to its environment during a complex developmental cycle involving two different hosts. Specific life cycle stages show fascinating collective behaviour, as millions of cells can be forced to move together in extreme confinement. Our goal is to examine such motile behaviour directly in the context of the relevant environments. Therefore, for the first time, we analyse the motility behaviour of trypanosomes directly in a widely used assay, which aims to evaluate the parasites behaviour in collectives, in response to as yet unknown parameters. In a step towards understanding whether, or what type of, swarming behaviour of trypanosomes exists, we customised the assay for quantitative tracking analysis of motile behaviour on the single-cell level. We show that the migration speed of cell groups does not directly depend on single-cell velocity and that the system remains to be simplified further, before hypotheses about collective motility can be advanced.
© The Author(s) 2021
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