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Biophys J. 1997 Sep;73(3):1395-401.

Control of phobic behavioral responses by rhodopsin-induced photocurrents in Chlamydomonas.

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Institut für Biochemie I, Regensburg, Germany.


Both phototactic and photophobic responses of Chlamydomonas are mediated by a visual system comprising a rhodopsin photoreceptor. Suction pipette recordings have revealed that flash stimulation causes calcium currents into the eyespot and the flagella. These photocurrents have been suggested to be the trigger for all behavioral light responses of the cell. But this has never been shown experimentally. Here we describe a detection technique that combines electrical and optical measurements from individual algae held in a suction pipette. Thus it is possible to record photocurrents and flagellar beating simultaneously and establish a direct link between the two. We demonstrate that in Chlamydomonas only the photoreceptor current in conjuction with a fast flagellar current constitutes the trigger for photophobic responses. Within the time of the action-potential-like flagellar current, the flagella switch from forward to backward swimming, which constitutes the beginning of the photoshock reaction. The switch is accompanied by a complex frequency change and beating pattern modulation. The results are interpreted in terms of a general model for phototransduction in green algae (Chlorophyceae).

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