The millisecond stalk contraction of the sessile ciliate Vorticella convallaria is powered by energy from Ca2+ binding to generate contractile forces of ∼10 nN. Its contractile organelle, the spasmoneme, generates higher contractile force under increased stall resistances. By applying viscous drag force to contracting V. convallaria in a microfluidic channel, we observed that the mechanical force and work of the spasmoneme depended on the stalk length, i.e.; the maximum tension (150-350 nN) and work linearly depended on the stalk length (∼2.5 nN and ∼30 fJ per 1 μm of the stalk). This stalk-length dependency suggests that motor units of the spasmoneme may be organized in such a way that the mechanical force and work of each unit cumulate in series along the spasmoneme.
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