Life is more than just genes and cells; we sometimes forget about the important forces of nature that keep everything physically together. Tensegrity is a term used in biology to describe how tension and compression work together to hold everything in place. Because of tensegrity, living systems can bend and reshape without breaking when they encounter external forces, similar to when a strong building moves during an earthquake without collapsing. Researchers have developed a new model, which combines biological research simulation and computer animation to study the role of tensegrity in living systems. This animation shows tensegrity in action in an individual dynein molecule, found in a sperm cell’s tail. The model has allowed scientists to understand how tensegrity dictates life’s movements at different scales, all the way to the level of individual atoms.
Written by Gaëlle Coullon
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.