The aim of this work is to quantify the spatio-temporal dynamics of flow-driven amoeboid locomotion in small (∼100 μm) fragments of the true slime mold Physarum polycephalum. In this model organism, cellular contraction drives intracellular flows, and these flows transport the chemical signals that regulate contraction in the first place. As a consequence of these non-linear interactions, a diversity of migratory behaviors can be observed in migrating Physarum fragments. To study these dynamics, we measure the spatio-temporal distributions of the velocities of the endoplasm and ectoplasm of each migrating fragment, the traction stresses it generates on the substratum, and the concentration of free intracellular calcium. Using these unprecedented experimental data, we classify migrating Physarum fragments according to their dynamics, finding that they often exhibit spontaneously coordinated waves of flow, contractility and chemical signaling. We show that Physarum fragments exhibiting symmetric spatio-temporal patterns of endoplasmic flow migrate significantly slower than fragments with asymmetric patterns. In addition, our joint measurements of ectoplasm velocity and traction stress at the substratum suggest that forward motion of the ectoplasm is enabled by a succession of stick-slip transitions, which we conjecture are also organized in the form of waves. Combining our experiments with a simplified convection-diffusion model, we show that the convective transport of calcium ions may be key for establishing and maintaining the spatio-temporal patterns of calcium concentration that regulate the generation of contractile forces.
Journal of Physics D Applied Physics
- Pub Date:
- May 2017
- Quantitative Biology - Cell Behavior
- Accepted for publication in J. Physics D (Special Issue on the Physics of Physarum Polyephalum