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    Phototaxis, which is the ability to move towards or away from a light source autonomously, is a common mechanism of unicellular algae. It evolved multiple times independently in different plant lineages. As of yet, algal phototaxis has been linked mainly to the presence of cilia, the only known locomotive organelle in unicellular algae. Red algae (Rhodophyta), however, lack cilia in all stages of their life cycle. Remarkably, multiple unicellular red algae like the extremophile Cyanidioschyzon merolae (C. merolae) can move towards light. Remarkably, it has remained unclear how C. merolae achieves movement, and the presence of a completely new mechanism has been suggested. Here we show that the basis of this movement are novel retractable projections, termed tentacles due to their distinct morphology. These tentacles could be reproducibly induced within 20 min by increasing the salt concentration of the culture medium. Electron microscopy revealed filamentous structures inside the tentacles that we identified to be actin filaments. This is surprising as C. merolae's single actin gene was previously published to not be expressed. Based on our findings, we propose a model for C. merolae's actin-driven but myosin-independent motility. To our knowledge, the described tentacles represent a novel motility mechanism.

    Citation

    Sascha Maschmann, Karin Ruban, Johanna Wientapper, Wilhelm J Walter. Phototaxis of the Unicellular Red Alga Cyanidioschyzon merolae Is Mediated by Novel Actin-Driven Tentacles. International journal of molecular sciences. 2020 Aug 27;21(17)

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    PMID: 32867346

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