The lubrication effect of three long-chain polymers - mucin, methylcellulose and Ficoll - on ciliary propulsion in tubes is measured by plotting the relative velocities of swimming cilitates as a function of the tube bore diameter. Mucin shows the most unequivocal lubrication, which is found at concentrations between 0% and 9.1% (w/v). This observation, coupled with viscometric measurements which show that ciliary tip shear rates are sufficient to solate mucin, serve as the groundwork for a model of mucin lubrication which explains the optimized lubrication behaviour of thixotropic gelating polymers as an expression of the response to shear by the various stages of polymer clustering during the gelatin process. In addition to the lubricative effect, another wall drag reduction effect by mucin was measured in the clearance region beyond the lubrication layer. This apparent viscosity reduction is optimized in the concentration range between I.7% and 4.I% mucin and may also be explained in terms of the properties of gel clustering.
- © 1976 by Company of Biologists