Structure of a microtubule. The ring shape depicts a microtubule in cross-section, showing the 13 protofilaments surrounding a hollow center.
Microtubules are one of the cytoskeletal filament systems in eukaryotic cells. The microtubule cytoskeleton is involved in the transport of material within cells, carried out by motor proteins that move on the surface of the microtubule.
Tubulin and microtubule-mediated processes, like cell locomotion, were seen by early microscopists, like Leeuwenhoek (1677). However, the fibrous nature of flagella and other structures were discovered two centuries later, with improved light microscopes, and confirmed in the 20th century with the electron microscope and biochemical studies.