Antiphase synchronization in a flagellar-dominance mutant of Chlamydomonas

Phys Rev Lett. 2013 Oct 11;111(15):158101. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.111.158101. Epub 2013 Oct 8.


Groups of beating flagella or cilia often synchronize so that neighboring filaments have identical frequencies and phases. A prime example is provided by the unicellular biflagellate Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, which typically displays synchronous in-phase beating in a low-Reynolds number version of breaststroke swimming. We report the discovery that ptx1, a flagellar-dominance mutant of C. reinhardtii, can exhibit synchronization in precise antiphase, as in the freestyle swimming stroke. High-speed imaging shows that ptx1 flagella switch stochastically between in-phase and antiphase states, and that the latter has a distinct waveform and significantly higher frequency, both of which are strikingly similar to those found during phase slips that stochastically interrupt in-phase beating of the wild-type. Possible mechanisms underlying these observations are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / genetics
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / physiology*
  • Flagella / genetics
  • Flagella / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Oscillometry
  • Stochastic Processes