Computational analysis of amoeboid swimming at low Reynolds number

Qixuan Wang, Hans G. Othmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Recent experimental work has shown that eukaryotic cells can swim in a fluid as well as crawl on a substrate. We investigate the swimming behavior of Dictyostelium discoideum amoebae who swim by initiating traveling protrusions at the front that propagate rearward. In our model we prescribe the velocity at the surface of the swimming cell, and use techniques of complex analysis to develop 2D models that enable us to study the fluid-cell interaction. Shapes that approximate the protrusions used by Dictyostelium discoideum can be generated via the Schwarz–Christoffel transformation, and the boundary-value problem that results for swimmers in the Stokes flow regime is then reduced to an integral equation on the boundary of the unit disk. We analyze the swimming characteristics of several varieties of swimming Dictyostelium discoideum amoebae, and discuss how the slenderness of the cell body and the shapes of the protrusion effect the swimming of these cells. The results may provide guidance in designing low Reynolds number swimming models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1893-1926
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Mathematical Biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported in part by NSF Grant DMS #s 9517884 and 131974 to H. G. Othmer, and by a grant from the Simons Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Amoeboid swimmimg
  • Low Reynolds number swimming
  • Metastasis
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  • Self-propulsion


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