1. Cells of Chlamydomonas reinhardi grown in the light or dark on standard medium require an additional exposure to light in the absence of a nitrogen source, in order to become sexually active. As the culture ages, the light requirement decreases.
2. This light requirement is a function of nitrogen depletion, as shown by the observation that cells from cultures grown to maturity on a low nitrogen medium in the light or in the dark, have no additional light requirement for zygote formation. The withholding of no other component of the medium has this effect.
3. In cells requiring light for zygote formation, the light can be supplied before the mating types are mixed, indicating that light is required, not for mating per se, but for the conversion of vegetative cells to gametes.
4. Gametes can be dedifferentiated to the vegetative state by any nitrogen compound which the cells can use for growth; and by further exposure to light in the absence of a nitrogen source, these vegetative cells can again become gametic.
5. Cells grown at different nitrogen levels become gametic at widely different cell concentrations of nitrogen and carbon and C/N ratios.
6. It is postulated that the role of light in gametic differentiation is indirect, providing by photosynthesis, energy for the mating process and carbohydrates to tie up excess nitrogenous reserves; and that the concentration of some particular nitrogen fraction or compound determines whether or not gametic differentiation is initiated.