Models of Low Reynolds Number Swimmers Inspired by Cell Blebbing

  • Qixuan WangEmail author
  • Jifeng Hu
  • Hans Othmer
Conference paper
Part of the The IMA Volumes in Mathematics and its Applications book series (IMA, volume 155)


Eukaryotic cells move through the complex micro-environment of a tissue either by attaching to the extracellular matrix – sometimes degrading it locally – and pulling themselves along, or by squeezing through the matrix by appropriate sequences of shape changes. Some cells can even swim by shape changes, and one mode used is called blebbing, in which a cell creates a small hemispherical protrusion that may grow to incorporate the entire cell volume or may be reabsorbed into the primary volume. Herein we develop and analyze several models for swimming at low Reynolds number inspired by cell blebbing. These models comprise several connected spheres, and each connected pair of spheres can exchange volume with their complement in the pair. We show that the cell can propel itself through the fluid using a suitable sequence of volume exchanges, and we evaluate the efficiency of this mode of swimming.

Key words

Cell protrusion micro-swimmer Stokes solution linked-sphere models 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of MathematicsUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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