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Intro to Anatomy 4: Cell Structure and Function
Intro to Anatomy 4: Cell Structure and Function
The Lone Ranger
Published by The Lone Ranger
Default Propulsive Organelles

Propulsive Organelles:
Cilia and flagella are extensions of the plasma membrane that are supported by microtubules. Both cilia and flagella can be moved back-and-forth, and either move the cell itself or move fluid past the cell.

Cilia are relatively short and numerous structures. The cells of many microorganisms are ciliated, and these organisms swim by beating their cilia. Paramecium is a well-known example of a ciliated swimmer. In humans, cells lining the respiratory tract and the female reproductive tract are ciliated. The ciliated cells in the respiratory tract help to keep mucus moving, and thereby prevent it from blocking respiratory passages. Ciliated cells in the female reproductive tract create currents that draw ova down the reproductive tract and to the uterus.

Ciliated cells lining the human respiratory tract.

Flagella are nearly identical to cilia, but they’re much longer and less-numerous. A typical flagellated cell has only a single flagellum, though some have more. The best-known of flagellated cells is surely the spermatozoan. A sperm cell uses its flagellum to swim up the female reproductive tract in search of an ovum.

A spermatozoan, the only type of cell in the human body with a true flagellum.


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