Choanoflagellates, eukaryotes that are important predators on bacteria in aquatic ecosystems, are closely related to animals and are used as a model system to study the evolution of animals from protozoan ancestors. The choanoflagellate Salpingoeca rosetta has a complex life cycle with different morphotypes, some unicellular and some multicellular. Here we use computational fluid dynamics to study the hydrodynamics of swimming and feeding by different unicellular stages of S. rosetta: a swimming cell with a collar of prey-capturing microvilli surrounding a single flagellum, a thecate cell attached to a surface and a dispersal-stage cell with a slender body, long flagellum and short collar. We show that a longer flagellum increases swimming speed, longer microvilli reduce speed and cell shape only affects speed when the collar is very short. The flux of prey-carrying water into the collar capture zone is greater for swimming than sessile cells, but this advantage decreases with collar size. Stalk length has little effect on flux for sessile cells. We show that ignoring the collar, as earlier models have done, overestimates flux and greatly overestimates the benefit to feeding performance of swimming versus being attached, and of a longer stalk for attached cells.
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
The Royal Society Publishing
Nguyen, H., Koehl, M. A. R., Oakes, C., Bustamente, G., & Fauci, L. (2019). Effects of cell morphology and attachment to a surface on the hydrodynamic performance of unicellular choanoflagellates. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 16(150), 20180736. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2018.0736
Journal of the Royal Society Interface