Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is a model organism of increasing biotechnological importance, yet, the evaluation of its life cycle processes and photosynthesis on a single-cell level is largely unresolved. To facilitate the study of the relationship between morphology and photochemistry, we established microfluidics in combination with chlorophyll a fluorescence induction measurements. We developed two types of microfluidic platforms for single-cell investigations: (i) The traps of the "Tulip" device are suitable for capturing and immobilizing single cells, enabling the assessment of their photosynthesis for several hours without binding to a solid support surface. Using this "Tulip" platform, we performed high-quality non-photochemical quenching measurements and confirmed our earlier results on bulk cultures that non-photochemical quenching is higher in ascorbate-deficient mutants (Crvtc2-1) than in the wild-type. (ii) The traps of the "Pot" device were designed for capturing single cells and allowing the growth of the daughter cells within the traps. Using our most performant "Pot" device, we could demonstrate that the FV/FM parameter, an indicator of photosynthetic efficiency, varies considerably during the cell cycle. Our microfluidic devices, therefore, represent versatile platforms for the simultaneous morphological and photosynthetic investigations of C. reinhardtii on a single-cell level.
Keywords: Chlamydomonas reinhardtii; cell cycle; chlorophyll a fluorescence; microfluidics; non-photochemical quenching; photosynthesis; single-cell.