Cilia/flagella and basal bodies/centrioles play key roles in human health and homeostasis. Among the organisms used to study these microtubule-based organelles, the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has several advantages. One is the existence of a temporary phase of the life cycle, termed the dikaryon. These cells are formed during mating when the cells fuse and the behavior of flagella from two genetically distinguishable parents can be observed. During this stage, the cytoplasms mix allowing for a defect in the flagella of one parent to be rescued by proteins from the other parent. This offers the unique advantage of adding back wild-type gene product or labeled protein at endogenous levels that can used to monitor various flagellar and basal body phenotypes. Mutants that show rescue and ones that fail to show rescue are both informative about the nature of the flagella and basal body defects. When rescue occurs, it can be used to determine the mutant gene product and to follow the temporal and spatial patterns of flagellar assembly. This review describes many examples of insights into basal body and flagellar proteins' function and assembly that have been discovered using dikaryons and discusses the potential for further analyses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-94
Number of pages16
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Basal bodies
  • Cilia
  • Ciliary trafficking
  • Flagella
  • Intraflagellar transport


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