Wild-type Chlamydomonas reinhardtii carry two flagella per cell that are used for both motility and mating. We describe a mutant, vfl-1, in which the biflagellate state is disrupted such that the number of flagella per cell ranges from 0 to as many as 10. vfl-1 cells possess the novel ability to assemble new flagella throughout the G1 portion of the cell cycle, resulting in an average increase of about 0.05 flagella per cell per hour. Such uncoupling of the flagellar assembly cycle from the cell cycle is not observed in other mutants with abnormal flagellar number. Rather than being located in an exclusively apical position characteristic of the wild type, vfl-1 flagella can be at virtually any location on the cell surface. vfl-1 cells display abnormally wide variations in cell size, probably owing to extremely unequal cell divisions. Various ultrastructural abnormalities in the flagellar apparatus are also present, including missing or defective striated fibers and reduced numbers of rootlet microtubules. The pleiotropic defects observed in vfl-1 result from a recessive Mendelian mutation mapped to Chromosome VIII.

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