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Journal Article

Langevin Dynamics Deciphers the Motility Pattern of Swimming Parasites

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Zaburdaev, V., Uppaluri, S., Pfohl, T., Engstler, M., Friedrich, R., & Stark, H. (2011). Langevin Dynamics Deciphers the Motility Pattern of Swimming Parasites. Physical Review Letters, 106(20): 208103. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.106.208103.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-55D0-D
The parasite African trypanosome swims in the bloodstream of mammals and causes the highly dangerous human sleeping sickness. Cell motility is essential for the parasite's survival within the mammalian host. We present an analysis of the random-walk pattern of a swimming trypanosome. From experimental time-autocorrelation functions for the direction of motion we identify two relaxation times that differ by an order of magnitude. They originate from the rapid deformations of the cell body and a slower rotational diffusion of the average swimming direction. Velocity fluctuations are athermal and increase for faster cells whose trajectories are also straighter. We demonstrate that such a complex dynamics is captured by two decoupled Langevin equations that decipher the complex trajectory pattern by referring it to the microscopic details of cell behavior.