The relation between oxygen consumption and motility of Ciona spermatozoa has been measured by using pH stats to measure the acid production of spermatozoa swimming in dilute suspensions where their motility can be analyzed accurately, and calibrating the acid production by measuring it simultaneously with measurements of oxygen consumption, using more concentrated sperm suspensions. When the motility of the spermatozoa is inhibited by thiourea or by increased viscosity, their oxygen consumption decreases in proportion to the decrease in beat frequency. 80–85 % of their oxygen consumption appears to be tightly coupled to motility. The amount of movement-coupled oxidative metabolism per beat remains nearly constant, even when there are significant changes in the energy required per beat for movement against the viscous resistance of the medium. This implies that under these conditions, where the radius of curvature of flagellar bending remains constant, the amount of ATP used is determined by a stoichiometric relation to bending rather than by the energy requirement. The movement-coupled oxidative metabolism appears to be sufficient to generate approximately two molecules of ATP per beat for each molecule of the flagellar ATPase, dynein.

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