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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]


Movements 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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