Biomechanics of ciliated tissues


  • Prof Raymond Goldstein

    University of Cambridge

Project summary

As embryos develop from the initial mass of cells formed shortly after fertilisation they go through a series of remarkable transformations to acquire the form of the adult. Many of these changes involve tissues changing shape in response to mechanical forces generated within them. While these processes are familiar and much studied from genetic and biochemical perspectives, we do not yet have a quantitative understanding of those forces and the response of the tissues to them.

We aim to achieve a quantitative understanding of the underlying biomechanics by linking theory and experiment using microscopy, micromanipulation and imaging with emerging theoretical tools. We seek to solve three outstanding problems: the link between cell shape changes and cell sheet geometry as found in such problems as gastrulation, which marks the beginning of the formation of the gastric system; the mechanism by which carpets of cilia – hair-like appendages whose motion generates fluid flow in many places in the body – develop orientational order; and the origin of metachronal waves in carpets of cilia which are the variations of the beating pattern on the scale of many cilia.