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Diurnal Variations in the Motility of Populations of Biflagellate Microalgae.

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Jin, Di 
Kotar, Jurij 
Silvester, Emma 
Leptos, Kyriacos C 
Croze, Ottavio A 


The motility of microalgae has been studied extensively, particularly in model microorganisms such as Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. For this and other microalgal species, diurnal cycles are well known to control the metabolism, growth, and cell division. Diurnal variations, however, have been largely neglected in quantitative studies of motility. Here, we demonstrate using tracking microscopy how the motility statistics of C. reinhardtii are modulated by diurnal cycles. With nine independently inoculated cultures synchronized to the light-dark cycle at the exponential growth phase, we repeatedly observed that the mean swimming speed is greater during the dark period of a diurnal cycle. From this measurement, using a hydrodynamic power balance, we infer the mean flagellar beat frequency and conjecture that its diurnal variation reflects modulation of intracellular ATP. Our measurements also quantify the diurnal variations of the orientational and gravitactic transport of C. reinhardtii. We use this to explore the population-level consequences of diurnal variations of motility statistics by evaluating a prediction for how the gravitactic steady state changes with time during a diurnal cycle. Finally, we discuss the consequences of diurnal variations of microalgal motility in soil and pelagic environments.



Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, Hydrodynamics, Microalgae, Microscopy, Swimming

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Biophys J

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Elsevier BV