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About Chlamydomonas

Chlamydomonas is a genus of unicellular green algae (Chlorophyta). These algae are found all over the world, in soil, fresh water, oceans, and even in snow on mountaintops. Algae in this genus have a cell wall, a chloroplast, an "eye" that perceives light, and two anterior flagella with which they can swim using a breast-stroke type motion. More than 500 different species of Chlamydomonas have been described, but most scientists work with only a few.

The most widely used laboratory species is Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Cells of this species are haploid, and can grow on a simple medium of inorganic salts, using photosynthesis to provide energy. They can also grow in total darkness if acetate is provided as an alternative carbon source. When deprived of nitrogen, haploid cells of opposite mating types can fuse to become a diploid zygospore which forms a hard outer wall that protects it from adverse environmental conditions. When conditions improve (or when the scientist restores nitrogen to the culture medium and provides light and water), the diploid zygote undergoes meiosis and releases four haploid cells that resume the vegetative life cycle.

Chlamydomonas is used as a model system for research on many very fundamental questions in cell and molecular biology: how do cells move? how do they respond to environmental stimuli such as light? how does photosynthesis work? how do cells recognize one another? For more details on this research, follow the links on this page and others in the sidebar at the left.

The Chlamydomonas Teaching Center
Mike Adams is developing a teaching center for Chlamydomonas, with tested laboratory protocols, methods, resources, and links to other educational sites.

Kits for science fair projects and laboratory exercises
from the Chlamydomonas Resource Center

Life Cycle
Bill Snell, UT Health Science Center at Dallas, contributed this figure of the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii life cycle

Craig's Chlamy Corner

This page by Craig Amundsen includes methods protocols used in the Lefebvre/Silflow laboratory at the University of Minnesota. These files were deleted by an overzealous administrator at that university, but fortunately were archived on the Wayback Machine. Some obsolete links have been removed, and we were unable to retrieve some image files, but the methods files were recovered.

Protist Image Database
General information about Chlamydomonas, including some formal portraits and phylogenetic trees

The Greening Process
An excellent page on chlorophyll biosynthesis and related topics, from C.A. Rebeiz at the University of Illinois

Green Plant Phylogeny Research Coordination Group
Algal phylogeny page by Mark Buchheim, Brent Mishler and Russ Chapman

Center for Bioenergy and Photosynthesis
Excellent site from Arizona State University. See especially the What is Photosynthesis? section.

Introduction to the Green Algae
A page on the site of the Museum of Paleontology at UC Berkeley

Another good general site on algae, with lots of links