Differential tissue stiffness of body column facilitates locomotion of Hydra on solid substrates

Suyash Naik, Manu Unni, Devanshu Sinha, Shatruhan Singh Rajput, P Chandramouli Reddy, Elena Kartvelishvily, Inna Solomonov, Irit Sagi, Apratim Chatterji, Shivprasad Patil, Sanjeev Galande

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The bell-shaped members of the Cnidaria typically move around by swimming, whereas the Hydra polyp can perform locomotion on solid substrates in an aquatic environment. To address the biomechanics of locomotion on rigid substrates, we studied the 'somersaulting' locomotion in Hydra. We applied atomic force microscopy to measure the local mechanical properties of Hydra's body column and identified the existence of differential Young's modulus between the shoulder region versus rest of the body column at 3:1 ratio. We show that somersaulting primarily depends on differential tissue stiffness of the body column and is explained by computational models that accurately recapitulate the mechanics involved in this process. We demonstrate that perturbation of the observed stiffness variation in the body column by modulating the extracellular matrix polymerization impairs the 'somersault' movement. These results provide a mechanistic basis for the evolutionary significance of differential extracellular matrix properties and tissue stiffness.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberjeb232702
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number20
StatePublished - 29 Oct 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Insect Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology


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