Modelling motility: the mathematics of spermatozoa


Gaffney, E
Ishimoto, K
Walker, B

Publication Date: 

20 July 2021


Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology

Last Updated: 







In one of the first examples of how mechanics can inform axonemal mechanism, Machin's study in the 1950s highlighted that observations of sperm motility cannot be explained by molecular motors in the cell membrane, but would instead require motors distributed along the flagellum. Ever since, mechanics and hydrodynamics have been recognised as important in explaining the dynamics, regulation, and guidance of sperm. More recently, the digitisation of sperm videomicroscopy, coupled with numerous modelling and methodological advances, has been bringing forth a new era of scientific discovery in this field. In this review, we survey these advances before highlighting the opportunities that have been generated for both recent research and the development of further open questions, in terms of the detailed characterisation of the sperm flagellum beat and its mechanics, together with the associated impact on cell behaviour. In particular, diverse examples are explored within this theme, ranging from how collective behaviours emerge from individual cell responses, including how these responses are impacted by the local microenvironment, to the integration of separate advances in the fields of flagellar analysis and flagellar mechanics.

Symplectic id: 


Submitted to ORA: 


Publication Type: 

Journal Article