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Research Abstracts Online
January 2008 - March 2009

University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Biological Sciences and
College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
Department of Plant Biology

PI: Paul A. Lefebvre
Co-PI: Carolyn D. Silflow

Identification of Genes Required for Flagellar Function and Assembly in the Unicellular Green Alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

These researchers are studying the assembly and function of the basal bodies and flagella of the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas rheinhardtii. Chlamydomonas is the premier model system for the dissection of the molecular mechanisms regulating the assembly and function of the cilia and flagella of eukaryotes. Now that the sequence of the genome has been obtained and the molecular map of the genome has been completed, these researchers are seeking to elucidate the mechanisms that control the assembly and functioning of cilia and flagella. To this end, they are applying a newly developed insertional mutagenesis approach, which, in combination with thermal asymmetric interlaced PCR procedures, allows them to rapidly clone genes mutated by the insertion of a selectable marker gene by transformation. Initially they are focusing their efforts on two classes of genes. First, they are seeking to understand the control of flagellar assembly by cloning and characterizing all genes involved in the regulation of flagellar length. Second, they are seeking to understand how the basal bodies subtending the flagella are regulated by studying mutants with defective control of flagellar number. The researchers are using Supercomputer Institute laboratories for analyzing the predicted proteins from cloned genes, for analyzing the genes in the context of the whole genome, and for comparing the predicted protein sequences from Chlamydomonas with homologous proteins from other eukaryotic organisms. The group also uses image deconvolution software available through MSI to obtain high-quality images of the structures of flagella and basal bodies.

Group Members

Craig Foster, Undergraduate Student
Nancy Haas, Staff
Matthew Laudon, Staff
Matthew Lavoie, Staff
Brian Piasecki, Graduate Student
Xiaoqing Sun, Graduate Student
Lai-Wa Tam, Research Associate