A novel type of mechanoreception by the flagella of Chlamydomonas

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28 Citations (Scopus)


A novel type of mechanosensory mechanism is found in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. When a cell is captured with a suction pipette and a negative pressure is applied, the cell produces repetitive Ca2+ impulses at a frequency of 0.5-1.0 Hz. The impulse frequency increases with the applied pressure. The impulses are produced when the flagella are sucked into the pipette but not when the cell body is sucked in leaving the flagella outside the pipette. Cells with short flagella produce impulses of small amplitude. Thus, the site where the cell senses mechanical stimuli and generates the impulse current must be localized at the flagella. The amplitude, shape and ion selectivity of the pressure-induced impulses are distinct from the all-ornone flagellar current that is evoked by photostimulation. The impulses are possibly produced by a combination of currents passing through mechanosensitive channels and Ca2+ channels. This response probably functions to modulate flagellar beating and thereby to regulate the behaviour of the cell.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-302
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1996 Feb 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Chlamydomonas
  • Flagellar motility
  • Mechanoreceptor current
  • Mechanosensitive channel
  • Photoshock response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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