Flagella are the complex filamentous cytoplasmic structure protruding through cell wall. These are unbranched, long, thread like structures, mostly composed of the protein flagellin, intricately embedded in the cell envelope.

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Cilia are slender, microscopic, hair-like structures or organelles that extend from the surface of nearly all mammalian cells (multiple or single).





1DefinitionCilia are short, hair like appendages extending from the surface of a living cell.Flagella are long, threadlike appendages on the surface of a living cell.
2NumberNumerousLess in Number
3LengthShort and hair like organelle (5-10µ)Long wipe like organelle (150µ)
4OccurrenceOccurs throughout the cell surface.Presence at one end or two ends or all over the surface.
5Cross sectionNexin arm present.Nexin arm absent
6DensityMany (hundreds) per cellFew (less than 10) per cell
7BeatingCilia beat in a coordinated rhythm either simultaneously (synchronous) or one after the other (metachronic).They beat independent of each other.
8MotionRotational, like a motor, very fast movingWave-like, undulating, sinusoidal, slow movement compared to cilia
9Found inEukaryotic cellsEukaryotic and prokaryotic cells
10Energy ProductionCilia use ‘kinesin’ which has an ATPase activity that produces energy to perform the movement.Flagella are powered by the proton-motive force by the plasma membrane.
11FunctionsHelps in locomotion, feeding circulation, aeration, etc.

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Help mainly in locomotion only.
12ExamplesCilia present in ParameciumFlagella present in Salmonella