Mating in Chlamydomonas is a complex process initiated by contact of gametic flagellar surfaces, resulting in transmission of a signal from the flagella to the cell bodies. This signal triggers later events of cell wall loss, mating structure activation, and cell-cell fusion. Little is known about the nature of the signal or the role of Ca in these events. It was found that extracellular Ca is not necessary for successful mating in Chlamydomonas. However, cells will take up Ca from the medium in a linear manner for many hours and will accumulate micromolar concentrations, presumably by sequestering Ca within intracellular storage sites. If gametic cells of one mating type (preloaded with 45Ca) are mated with gametes of the opposite mating type (preloaded with unlabeled calcium), there is a rapid, transient increase in calcium efflux rate (20 times that of the control) that lasts approximately 6 min. This effect is not associated with cell-cell fusion, since the same observation is made if (+) gametes preloaded with 45-Ca are agglutinated by isolated flagella from (-) gametes preloaded with unlabeled Ca. Other experiments have shown that the increased efflux rate is not a simple consequence of cell wall release. Ca efflux in unmated gametes is greatly reduced in deflagellated cells, suggesting that much of the Ca movement is associated with the flagellar membrane. Although signaling itself may involve Ca fluxes across the flagellar membrane, it is also possible that a consequence of signaling is release of Ca from intracellular storage sites (perhaps functional equivalents of the sarcoplasmic reticulum). The observed transient increase in Ca efflux rate may reflect a transient increase in the cytoplasmic free-Ca concentration. This increase in cytoplasmic Ca may regulate the later events in mating (such as cell wall release and mating structure activation).

This content is only available as a PDF.