Motility is a biological term which refers to the ability to move spontaneously and actively, consuming energy in the process. Most animals are motile but the term applies to single-celled and simple multicellular organisms, as well as to some mechanisms of fluid flow in multicellular organs, in addition to animal locomotion. Motile marine animals are commonly called free-swimming.

The opposite of motility is sessility.

Motility may also refer to an organism's ability to move food through its digestive tract, i.e., peristaltics (gut motility, intestinal motility, etc.).[1]


Cellular-level motility

At the cellular level, undulipodia (singular undulipodium) are slender cellular protuberances that project from the much larger cell body. Undulipodia, which consists of both eukaryotic flagella and eukaryotic cilia,[2] may be motile or non-motile. Both motile cilia and flagella are motile. Primary cilia typically serve as sensory cellular organelles, and are non-motile. Eukaryotic cilia are structurally identical to eukaryotic flagella, although distinctions are sometimes made according to function and/or length.[3]

Examples of single-cellular motility


Movements[clarification needed] can be:

  • along a chemical gradient (see chemotaxis)
  • along a temperature gradient (see thermotaxis)
  • along a light gradient (see phototaxis)
  • along a magnetic field line (see magnetotaxis)
  • along an electric field (see galvanotaxis)
  • along the direction of the gravitational force (see gravitaxis)
  • along a rigidity gradient (see durotaxis)
  • along a gradient of cell adhesion sites (see haptotaxis)
  • along other cells or biopolymers

See also


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Motility — Mo*til i*ty, n. [Cf. F. motilit[ e].] (Physiol.) Capability of motion; contractility. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • motility — (n.) capacity of movement, 1827, from Fr. motilité (1827), from L. mot , stem of movere to move (see MOVE (Cf. move) (v.)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • motility — The power of spontaneous movement. * * * mo·til·i·ty mō til ət ē n, pl ties the quality or state of being motile: CONTRACTILITY <gastrointestinal motility> * * * mo·til·i·ty (mo tilґĭ te) 1. spontaneous movement. 2. the ability to move …   Medical dictionary

  • motility — noun 1. ability to move spontaneously and independently • Ant: ↑immotility • Derivationally related forms: ↑motile • Hypernyms: ↑mobility 2. a change of position that does not entail a change of location the reflex motion of his eyebr …   Useful english dictionary

  • motility — noun see motile I …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • motility — See motile. * * * …   Universalium

  • motility — noun The state or degree of being motile …   Wiktionary

  • motility — mo·til·i·ty || məʊ tɪlÉ™tɪ n. mobility, capacity to move …   English contemporary dictionary

  • motility — mo·til·i·ty …   English syllables

  • Motility (Steve Kuhn album) — Motility Studio album by Steve Kuhn Released 1977 …   Wikipedia

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