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Scanning Electron Microscope image of lung trachea epithelium showing ciliated cells, and non-ciliated cells with microvilli.

Cilia (singular cilium) is an organelle projecting from a eukaryotic cell. They are similar to the flagellum, a whip like tail found on some cells that usually helps in propulsion.[1] Some kinds of Cilia can move and bend, others just float and seem to be used for sensors.[2]

Cilia, like mitochondria and the cell nucleus, are thought to be endosymbiotic or gained when a cell "eats" another organism which eventually takes up residence in the cell. Interestingly, in one study, cilia were singled out as not being possible to have originated in this way.[3]


Section of an axoneme "9+2"
1-A. and 1-B. tubulin dimers. 2. central pair of microtubules. 3. Dynein arms. 4. Radius. 5. Nexin. 6. Plasma membrane.

A type of motor protein called the axonemal dynein powers cilia.[4] The axoneme is the contractile structure of cilia and flagella formed by a ring of nine pairs of microtubules outside a central pair and associated proteins Dynein and Nexin. The Dynein is a massive molecular motor that transports various cellular cargo throughout the cell along microtubule tracks.[5] The movement of these proteins provides the movement of cilia and flagella. The axoneme is the 'skeleton' of the appendages that line, for example, the lungs, and fallopian tubes.[4]

See Also


  1. Behe, Michael J (2007). The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism. New York: Free Press. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-7432-9622-9. 
  2. Karp, Gerald (2008). Cell and Molecular Biology:Concepts and experiments (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. p. 349. ISBN 978-0-470-04217-5. 
  3. Hartman, Hyman; Smith, Temple F (Abril 2009). "The evolution of the cilium and the eukaryotic cell". Cell Motility and the Cytoskeleton 66 (4): 215-219. ISSN 0886-1544. OCLC 38169885. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Sarfati, Jonathan (2008). By Design. Eight Mile Plains, Australia: Creation Book Publishers. p. 140-141. ISBN 978-0-94990672-4. 
  5. Rana, Fazale (2008). The Cell´s Design: How Chemistry Reveals the Creator´s Artistry. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-8010-6827-0. 

External links