Difference Between Cilia And Flagella

Cilia and flagella are structurally similar cellular units but differ in length and function. Cilia occur in organisms such as Paramecium, while flagella are found in bacteria and sperm cells. Cilia smaller and more numerous than flagella.

Difference Between Cilia And Flagella

Cilia and flagella are the organelles most commonly used for movement in unicellular organisms. Organisms with cilia can move quickly and efficiently.

What is Cilia?

Cilia are small hair-like structures that are abundant in eukaryotic cells.

Circulatory lymph nodes are found in the respiratory tract and abdominal muscles of the human body. where they trap mucus in the airways and facilitate the gradual passage of the ovaries from the ovaries to the uterus. Non-motile cilia are also known as sensory cilia or primary cilia. They function as parts of the nervous system. They act as antennae for cells that receive signals from neighboring cells. Example Cilia in olfactory nerves and hair cells.

There are two types of cilia

  • Non-motile
  • Motile

Cilia facilitate movement and function of the nervous system, cell cycle and reproduction and play an important role in human and animal development Rhythmic movements and multiple mouth waves help keep intestinal tracts free of any foreign material and the feces.

Additionally, they act as antennae that help cells receive sensory information and process these signals from the surrounding fluid.

What is Flagella?

Flagella are hair-like structures that protrude through the cell surface. They contribute to motility in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.

There are three types of flagella:

  • Bacterial flagella: These are found in many bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella typhi. They are helical and have a rotary motor on the base that facilitates clockwise and counterclockwise movement.

They are made from the protein flagellin. Different species of bacteria have different arrangements and different numbers of flagella.

Bacteria are classified according to the arrangement and number of flagella present haploid – one sided polymers
Peritrichous – many vesicles projecting in all directions.
Amphibians – Two flagella, one on each opposite pole.
Lophotrichus – Many clusters or groups of flagella coexisting.
Eukaryotic flagella: They beat back and forth to cause movement. like sperm cells.

The structure resembles dynamic cilia, but their length and function are different. The core of a eukaryotic flagellum is called the axoneme, which consists of microtubules with a 9+2 arrangement.

The nine doubles surround the 2 central singles. Archaeal flagella: Similar to bacterial flagella but without the central groove. They are known as Archelae.


Flagella help the organism to move, and they act as sensory organs to sense changes in pH and temperature. Some eukaryotes also use the flagellum to increase reproduction rates. Recently, it has been discovered that flagella are also used as secretory organelles.

Difference Between Cilia And Flagella



The number of cilia is comparatively more (typically ranges in the thousands) The number of flagella is comparatively less (usually ranges from 1 to 8)
Cilia are usually shorter in length Flagella are comparatively longer in length
The beating pattern of cilia is very complicated – It can move in a wide range of motions The beating pattern of flagella involves circular, wave-like or propeller-like motion
Found in eukaryotic cells Found in prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells
Cilia are of two types: non-motile cilia and motile cilia Flagella are of three types: bacterial flagella, archaeal flagella and eukaryotic flagella

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