Temperature is physiologically critical for all living organisms, which cope with temperature stress using metabolic and behavioral responses. In unicellular and some multicellular organisms, thermotaxis is a behavioral response to avoid stressful thermal environments and promote accumulation in an optimal thermal environment. In this study, we examined whether Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a unicellular green alga, demonstrated thermotaxis. We found that between 10 °C and 30 °C, Chlamydomonas cells migrated toward lower temperatures independent of cultivation temperature. Interestingly, when we applied reagents to change intracellular reduction-oxidation (redox) conditions, we saw that thermotaxis was enhanced, suppressed, or reversed, depending on the redox conditions and cultivation temperature. Thermotaxis was almost absent in ppr2 and ppr3 mutants, which cannot swim backward because of a defect in generating calcium current in flagella. The frequency of spontaneous backward swimming was lower at more favorable temperature, suggesting a pivotal role of spontaneous backward swimming generated by flagellar membrane excitation.
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