Difference Between Cilia and Flagella (with Comparison Chart and Similarities)

Cilia are short, hair-like social organization, present in large numbers in a cell, while flagella are farseeing, hair-like complex structure and are few per cell. Cilia and scourge are hair-like appendages, extending through the surface of the survive cellular telephone, they differ in their manner of beat, size, and number .
Cilia and scourge are the locomotory structure, which is the extension of the plasma membrane of the cell. Besides the locomotion, they besides help in other processes like breathing, body waste, circulation, etc. They besides take depart in capturing food. These both are found in eukaryotic cells, but in prokaryotic cells only flagella

Both of these appendages are found in eukaryotic cells, but in prokaryotic cells alone flagellum are stage. Although these appendages are not found in plants. In the pursue article, we will discuss the difference between these two structures .

Contentµ: Cilia Vs Flagella

Comparison Chart

Basis for comparison CiliaFlagella

MeaningThe microscopic, slender, short hair like structure present overall on the surface of the cell, and thus support the locomotion of the cell is called cilia. The unbranched, long, complex, filamentous, thread like structure extending through cell surface is called flagella.

Found inEukaryotic cell.Prokaryotic cell as well as in eukaryotic cells.

QuantityNumerous (hundreds) per cell.Few (less than 10) per cell.


Type of motionCilia show rotational motion like a motor; they are very fast moving.Flagella show slow, wave-like, sinusoidal and undulating movement.

BeatIn coordination.Independently.

Nexim (a protein)Present. Absent.

RoleThey play their primary role in locomotion, aeration (respiration), etc.They are helpful in locomotion only.

Occurs in It occurs all over the cell surface.It is present at both the ends or sometimes all over the surface.

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Definition of Cilia

Cilia are short-circuit, lissome, hair-like appendages extending from the surface of the cell. These are present in about all eukaryotic cells. They play a significant function the cell and overall body development .
Cilia are most active during the cell motorbike progress and proliferation. The width of the eyelash is less than 1 µm, and the length varies from 1-10 µm .
Cilia are broadly divided into two types – Motile and Non-motile. Motile or moving cilia are chiefly present in lungs, in-between auricle, and respiratory tract. These kind beat rhythmically. Their work is to keep the airways clear of mucus and dust, due to which it is easy to breathe freely and without any annoyance. They are besides helpful in the motion of the sperm .
Motile cilia dwell of ciliary axoneme, which is regarded as the microtubular spine, they have 9+2 musical arrangement of the ciliary axoneme and is surrounded by the plasma membrane. In this musical arrangement, the nine fused pairs of microtubules arranged in a circle, while the two unfused microtubules are present in the center of the set.

The arms ‘ dynein ‘ which are attached to the microtubules, work as the molecular motors. The defect in the dynein arms causes male sterility, problems in the respiratory tract.

Non-motile cilia also called as primary cilia play their role in receiving signals from other cells or nearby fluids, by acting as the antenna for the cellular telephone. For case in the kidney, the cilia send signals to the cells about the flow of urine .
even in the eye, the non-motile cilium supports the exile of vital molecules from one end of the photoreceptor of the retina to the other. Non-motile cilia have 9+0 microtubular arrangement .

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Definition of Flagella

flagellum are the complex, hair-like filamentous structure, extending through the cell open. flagellum are composed protein like flagellin, embedded in the cell envelope. They are responsible for motion. They can be about 5-16 µm in duration and 12-30 nanometer in diameter .
flagellum are of three types – bacterial flagella, archaeal flagella, eukaryotic flagella. Bacterial flagella are found in Salmonella typhi, E. coli. They can be one, two or many scourge per cell. These have the coiling filamentous structure that rotates like screws. These provide motility to bacteria .
Archaeal flagella show similarity with that of bacterial scourge but lack a central groove. Eukaryotic flagella are the complex projections, that pulsate back and forth. An exemplar is the sperm cell, which propels itself through the female generative tract by using its scourge. Flagella_content
normally, flagellum dwell of Hook, Filament and Basal body in their body parts. The fibril is the external character of the cell ; the bait is in the cell envelope, and basal torso is attached to the cytoplasmic membrane, through the ring-like structures. Their routine is attachment, signal transduction, ace, movements.

Key Differences Between Cilia and Flagella

Given below are the key differences between the eyelash and flagellum :

  1. Cilia are the microscopic, slender, short hair like structure present overall on the surface of the cell, and thus support the locomotion of the cell, on the other hand, flagella are longer and few in number, complex, filamentous structure, extended through the cell surface.
  2. Cilia are found in eukaryotic cells only, they are present overall on the cell surface and are shorter, while flagella are longer and are few (less than 10) in numbers, they are found in prokaryotic as well as in eukaryotic cells.
  3. Cilia beat coordinately and show rotational motion and are very fast moving also, on the other hand, flagella show whip-like, sinusoidal, undulating, independent movement, but are slow.
  4. Cilia play their leading role in locomotion, aeration (respiration), excretion, circulation, etc., while flagella are helpful in locomotion only.
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  • Cilia and flagella share some common characteristics like they arise from the small granular structure called the basal body. Both are the outgrowth of the plasma membrane of the cell. Cilia and flagella consist of the central filament called an axoneme. The axoneme contains eleven microtubules. Nine are present in pairs called as the doublet, and two of them present in the center are the singlet. This is called 9+2 microtubular arrangement. The drift in the microtubules of the axoneme causes the movement in the cilia and flagella. The axoneme contains proteins like dynein, tubulin, nexin.
  • In some organisms like protozoans and metazoans, it helps in capturing food.
  • Mainly serve as locomotory organs.
  • Also helps in respiration, circulation, and excretion.


Cilia and scourge are the locomotory structure of the prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, but apart from it, they besides perform surely a physiological process like circulation, breathing, locomotion, elimination. Being structurally same, the feature that distinguishes them from each other is their number, size and beating mode .

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