Changes in the flagellar waveform in response to increased viscosity were investigated in uniflagellate mutants of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. We hypothesized that the waveforms of mutants lacking different dynein arms would change in different ways as viscosity was increased, and that these variations would illuminate the feedback pathways from force to dynein activity. Previous studies have investigated the effects of viscosity on cell body motion, propulsive force, and power in different mutants, but the effect on waveform has not yet been fully characterized. Beat frequency decreases with viscosity in wild-type uniflagellate (uni1) cells, and outer dynein arm deficient (oda2) mutants. In contrast, the inner dynein arm mutant ida1 (lacking I1/f) maintains beat frequency at high viscosity but alters its flagellar waveform more than either wild-type or oda2. The ida1 waveform is narrower than wild-type, primarily due to an abbreviated recovery stroke; this difference is amplified at high viscosity. The oda2 mutant in contrast, maintains a consistent waveform at high and low viscosity with a slightly longer power stroke than wild-type. Analysis of the delays and shear displacements between bends suggest that direct force feedback in the outer dynein arm system may initiate switching of dynein activity. In contrast, I1/f dynein appears to delay switching, most markedly at the initiation of the power stroke, possibly by controlling inter-doublet separation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-490
Number of pages14
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Chlamydomonas
  • Dynein
  • Flagella
  • Viscosity
  • Waveform


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