What is the Difference Between Similar But Different Things, Terms, and Objects

What is the Difference between Flagella, Stereocilia, Microvilli and Cilia

Every living being in the universe consists of cells, which is the basic element of life and executes all the functions of body parts. In fact, each cell consists of different parts and the function of each part is different. The performance of cells also depends upon the parts of cells which decide the individual functions of cells. Similarly, the numbers of cells present in each living being are different. Human body consists of thousands of cell, but there are also such living being which consists of just one cell. Flagella, Stereocilia, Microvilli and Cilia are the terms which are related to cell. Let’s clear the difference between these terms.


Flagella or Flagellum (Singular) are organelle of cells. These are thread-like structures which are present on the living cell surface. These are long whip-like tail structures which are present on both Eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. The count of flagella is not more than 10 in any type of cell and mostly only one or two flagella are present in the cells.


Stereocilia are also organelle of cells, but typically of hair cells. This mechano-sensing organelle gives clear response to change in fluid pressure or fluid motion. Despite having 5mm, stereocilia are characterized by lack of motility. Being having mechano-sensing function, these are present in the inner ear, epididymis and ductus deferens.


The protrusions of cellular membrane in eukaryotic cells are called Microvilli. The role of Microvilli is to facilitate cellular adhesion, secretion, absorption and mechanco-transduction. These are non-motile organelle and present in the sensory organs like nose, mouth and ears.


Cilia or Cilium (Singular) are the part of eukaryotic or animal cells which looks like fine hair like projections. Cilia could be motile or non-motile. Both mobile and immobile Cilia act as sensory organisms. Motile cilia play a role of sweeping dirt and mucus out of lungs and present along the trachea lining. On the other hand, non-motile cilia play a role of olfactory sensors and present in the nose of eyes.

Flagella vs Stereocilia vs Microvilli vs Cilia

No doubt, all Flagella, Stereocilia, Microvilli and Cilia are the organelle or parts of eukaryotic cells, but they are different from each other in terms of structure and function. Only stereocilia are similar to microvilli for many similarities in characteristics. However, their length and bundle arrangement differentiate them from mircovilli. Similarly, unlike cilia, stereocilia and microvilli are immobile. Moreover, both Flagella and cilia present in the Eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells unlike stereocilia and microvilli which are only the part of eukaryotic cells.

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