Modelling Motility: The Mathematics of Spermatozoa

Eamonn A. Gaffney, Kenta Ishimoto, Benjamin J. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (SciVal)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number710825
JournalFrontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
BW is supported by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), grant EP/N509711/1. KI is supported by JSPS-KAKENHI for Young Researchers (18K13456) and JST, PRESTO Grant no. JPMJPR1921.


  • computer-assisted beat-pattern analysis
  • flagellum
  • mechanics
  • modelling
  • sperm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Modelling Motility: The Mathematics of Spermatozoa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this