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In biology, motility is the ability to move spontaneously and actively, consuming energy in the process. Most animals are motile but the term applies to unicellular 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[edit]

At the cellular level, different modes of motility exist:

Many cells are not motile, for example Klebsiella pneumoniae and Shigella, or under specific circumstances such as Yersinia pestis at 37 °C.[citation needed]


See also: Taxis

The events that are perceived as movements can be directed:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Intestinal Motility Disorders at eMedicine
  2. ^ Van Haastert, Peter J. M. (2011). "Amoeboid Cells Use Protrusions for Walking, Gliding and Swimming". PLoS ONE 6 (11): e27532. Bibcode:2011PLoSO...627532V. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027532. PMC 3212573. PMID 22096590. 
  3. ^ Bae, A. J.; Bodenschatz, E. (2010). "On the swimming of Dictyostelium amoebae". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107 (44): E165–6. Bibcode:2010PNAS..107E.165B. doi:10.1073/pnas.1011900107. PMC 2973909. PMID 20921382.