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Phototaxis of Chlamydomonas arises from a tuned adaptive photoresponse shared with multicellular Volvocine green algae.

Accepted version
Peer-reviewed

Type

Article

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Authors

Leptos, Kyriacos C 
Chioccioli, Maurizio 
Furlan, Silvano 
Pesci, Adriana I 
Goldstein, Raymond E 

Abstract

A fundamental issue in biology is the nature of evolutionary transitions from unicellular to multicellular organisms. Volvocine algae are models for this transition, as they span from the unicellular biflagellate Chlamydomonas to multicellular species of Volvox with up to 50,000 Chlamydomonas-like cells on the surface of a spherical extracellular matrix. The mechanism of phototaxis in these species is of particular interest since they lack a nervous system and intercellular connections; steering is a consequence of the response of individual cells to light. Studies of Volvox and Gonium, a 16-cell organism with a plate-like structure, have shown that the flagellar response to changing illumination of the cellular photosensor is adaptive, with a recovery time tuned to the rotation period of the colony around its primary axis. Here, combining high-resolution studies of the flagellar photoresponse of micropipette-held Chlamydomonas with 3D tracking of freely swimming cells, we show that such tuning also underlies its phototaxis. A mathematical model is developed based on the rotations around an axis perpendicular to the flagellar beat plane that occur through the adaptive response to oscillating light levels as the organism spins. Exploiting a separation of timescales between the flagellar photoresponse and phototurning, we develop an equation of motion that accurately describes the observed photoalignment. In showing that the adaptive timescales in Volvocine algae are tuned to the organisms' rotational periods across three orders of magnitude in cell number, our results suggest a unified picture of phototaxis in green algae in which the asymmetry in torques that produce phototurns arise from the individual flagella of Chlamydomonas, the flagellated edges of Gonium, and the flagellated hemispheres of Volvox.

Description

Keywords

Chlamydomonas, Phylogeny, Phototaxis, Chlorophyta, Biological Evolution, Volvox

Journal Title

Phys Rev E

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

2470-0045
2470-0053

Volume Title

Publisher

American Physical Society (APS)
Sponsorship
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF7523)
Wellcome Trust (207510/Z/17/Z)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/M017982/1)
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