Photoperiodic control of germination in the unicell Chlamydomonas.

Suzuki L, Johnson CH
Naturwissenschaften. 2002 89 (5): 214-20

PMID: 12135086 · DOI:10.1007/s00114-002-0302-6

Photoperiodic time measurement is a well-documented adaptation of multicellular plants and animals to seasonal changes in the environment, but it is unclear whether unicellular organisms can exhibit bona fide photoperiodic responses. We demonstrate that the occurrence of zygospore germination of the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas is a genuine photoperiodic response. Germination efficiency is enhanced in long days as compared with short days. While the total amount of light exposure influences the efficiency of germination, the photoperiod is a significant cue for germination. The developmental stage that senses the photoperiod is just prior to mating and during the first days of zygospore development, so there may be a critical window of zygospore maturation that is regulated by photoperiod. Because zygospores are resistant to freezing injury, whereas vegetative cells are not, it is likely that the suppression of germination by short days is an adaptive response for overwintering of Chlamydomonas. Therefore, Chlamydomonas is a single-celled organism that is capable of photoperiodic responses.

MeSH Terms (4)

Animals Chlamydomonas reinhardtii Photoperiod Reproduction

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