Biology

Difference Between Cilia And Flagella

These are cell organelles that are structurally similar but different in length and functions. In unicellular organisms, flagella and cilia are the most common organelles for locomotion. The major difference between cilia and flagella is that cilia are short, hair-like appendages extending from the surface of a living cell. Cilia are present in nexin arm. They are short in length. On the other hand, flagella are long threadlike appendages on the surface of a living cell. Nexin arm absent in flagella. Flagella are longer than cilia. In this article, you will and understand the major difference between cilia and flagella with examples in detail.

Difference Between Cilia And Flagella in Tabular Form

Cilia

Flagella

Cilia are present in organisms i.e. paramecium Flagella are found in bacteria and sperm cells.
Present in large numbers Present fewer in number.
They are categorized into the category of protozoans, class Ciliata, in the Ciliated epithelium of the Metazoa, and other classes. Flagella is present in protozoans, choanocyte cells of Metazoa, and in other classes- in plants, in gamete cells, and in algae.
Usually shorter in length Longer in length
Exhibits radical motion. Exhibits in coiled motion
Present in Eukaryotic cells Present in prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells
Beat in coordination. Beat independently.
Cilia contain ATPase activity, producing energy to perform the movement. Flagella are powered by the proton-motive force of the plasma membrane.

Cilia Vs. Flagella – Overview

These are external structures in cells, which contribute mainly to the locomotion of cells. Cilia are present in organisms i.e. paramecium. These are short, hair-like structures, present in large numbers throughout the surface of some cells. While, flagella are long, thread-like structures, present in lesser numbers at only one end of the cell. Cilia beat in a coordinated rhythm while flagella beat independently. Cilia are only found in eukaryotic cells. On the other hand, flagella are found in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. The major difference between flagella and cilia is that cilia prevent the accumulation of dust inside the breathing tubes. It creates a thin layer of mucous along the tubes. While flagella are used by sperm cells to propel themselves by the female reproductive organ.

What are Cilia?

Cilia are hair-like structures or organelles that extend from the surface of most eukaryotic cells. There are two types of cilia are found in eukaryotic cells: primary cilia and motile cilia. Primary cilia can be found in every animal cell; a single primary cilium is found in all mammalian cells. Primary cilia are generally found in human sensory organs like the eye and nose. It is considered as sensory cellular antennae which coordinate numerous signaling pathways in cells. While Motile cilia can be found in large numbers on the surface of cells, beating in coordinated waves. Motile cilia can be found in the inlining of the trachea sweep the mucus, which contains dirt out of the lungs. Cilia can be formed during ciliogenesis.

Structure of Cilia

The cilia consist of microtubules that are coated in the plasma membrane. Each cilia consists are formed by nine pairs of microtubules that form the outside ring while the two others make the central microtubules. This structure is known as the axoneme.

Read Also: Function of Axoneme

Function Of Cilia

Cilia are helped in the locomotion and the sensory functions. It plays a key role in the cell cycle and replication. It also helps in the development of humans and animals. Group of cilia wave in a rhythmic motion which helps in keeping the internal development passageways free from any mucus and foreign agent. They receive sensory information for the cells and executes these signals from the surroundings.

What are Flagella?

Flagella are the helical-like structure which is consisted of flagellin protein. These are microscopic hair-like structures that are involved in the locomotion of the cells. Flagella act as sensory organs in some organisms to assist in the change of pH and temperature. It can be divided into three types named hook, filament, and the basal body. The cell membrane is attached to the basal body and the cytoplasmic membrane. While the hook is a broader area. It is present at the base of the filament. Hook connects the filament to the motor protein in the base. Whereas, the filament is the hair-like structure that arises from the hook.

Function of Flagella

Flagella play a vital role in the movement. Flagella act as sensory organs to detect pH and temperature changes. Some eukaryotes also use flagella to increase reproduction rates. flagella are also used as a secretory organelle.

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