Journal of microbiological methods

Semi-circular microgrooves to observe active movements of individual Navicula pavillardii cells.

PMID 23337812


We performed a trajectory analysis of movements of Navicula pavillardii diatom cells that were confined to semi-circular microgrooves with several different curvature radii. Using the semi-circular micropattern, we succeeded in observing change of velocity of the same cell before and after the stimulation by N,N-dimethyl-p-toluidine (DMT). Because the looped grooves had longer contour length than straight grooves, it was effective to achieve the long term observation of the stimulated active cells. Although average velocity of 150 cells was significantly increased with DMT, the maximum velocity (19 μm/s) of the cells was not increased after the DMT injection. This may suggest that existence of the mechanical limit of the velocity of the diatom cells. Secondly, trajectories of individual cell movements along the walls of the semi-circular microgrooves were analyzed in detail. As a result, the velocity of the cells was not affected by the curvature radii of the grooves although the trajectories indicated an obvious restriction of area of the cell motion. This suggests that the surface of the diatom is effective in minimizing the frictional force between the cell body and the wall of a groove. Finally, a simple model of cell motion in the semi-circular groove was proposed to clarify the relationships among the forces that determine cell movement.