Cilia and flagella, Biology


  • Purkinje first observed ciliary movement.
  • Hodge studied detail structure of sperm flagellum.
  • Manton studied structure of cilia in plants.
  • Cilia and flagella are simillar in structure. There are some external differences between cilia and flagella.



Shorter - 5 to 1 0 m in length


More in number on a cell



Exhibit sweeping or pendular movement.

It includes power stroke and recovery stroke.

Action co-ordinated

upto 150 m long


Few in number



undulating movement


Action not co-ordinated

  • Both structures help in locomotion, excretion, secretion and transportation.
  • Cilia and flagella are present in eukaryotic cells except slime moules.
  • Cilia and flagella are also present in prokaryotic cells except Anabena (BGA).
  • Cilia and flagella shows 9+2 arrangement of microtubules.
  • Cilia and flagella consists of 3 parts -

(1) Basal body                 (2) Basal Plate               (3) Shaft

(1) Basal body

  • It is also known as kinetosome or basal granule or blepheroplast.
  • It has 9+0 orientation of microtubule.
  • Hub protein present in the proximal part of basal body but absent in distal part.
  • Central part of basal granule is composed of semisolid cytoplasm called "Central Hub". Microtubules connected to central Hub with the help of protein fibres called primary fibres. Secondary fibres connect microtubules with each other. The triplet microtubules form an angle of 40° with the tangent of basal granule.
  • Rootlet - A conical bundle of protein fibers arise from basal body, Rootlet have dark bands composed of ATPase.
  • Synthesis of ATP takes place in dark bands.

(2) Basal Plate

  • Present between basal body and shaft.
  • It conects basal body and shaft to each other.
  • Two major changes occur at the region of basal plate -

(i) Triplet of peripheral microtubule convert into doublet of microtubules. (ii) Central microtubules develop from distal end of Hub protein.

(3) Shaft

Shaft consists of two parts -

(i) Sheath

(ii)  Axoneme

  • Outer covering of cilium or flagellum is called sheath. Peripheral sheath covers peripheral microtubule whereas central sheet covers central microtubules.
  • Axoneme of shaft consists of 11 microtubules (9 peripheral and 2 central).

738_cilia and flagella.png

  • Axoneme shows 9+2 arrangement of microtubules.
  • Each peripheral microtubule consists of A and B subtubule.
  • A subtuble has two bent arms, these are made up of dyenine proteins. These arms directed in clockwise fashion. Arms of A-tubules composed of an enzymatic protein. Dynien similar to myosin of muscles. Dynien protein have ability to split A TP ( in presence of Ca+ 2 and Mg+2) and liberate energy for movement. Cilia and flagella bend or move due to sliding of microtubules along one another while maintaining their individual length (mechanism simillar to muscle contraction).
  • Each peripheral microtubules consists of tubulin protein. Tubulin simillar to Actin protein of muscles.
  • A and B subtubules connected to each other with the help of Nexine protein.
  • Both central microtubules connected to each other with protoplasmic bridge. Central sheath is present around the central microtubule.
  • Each A subtubule liked to central sheath with the help of radial spoke. Terminal end of radial spoke forms knob like structure that is known as spoke head. Spoke head is present near to central sheath.
  • Transition junctions are also present between central sheath and spoke head.
  • Shaft of cilium of flagellum filled with proteinacious matrix.
Posted Date: 10/5/2012 8:48:44 AM | Location : United States

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