Drastic reorganization of the bioconvection pattern of Chlamydomonas: Quantitative analysis of the pattern transition response

Azusa Kage, Chiharu Hosoya, Shoji A. Baba, Yoshihiro Mogami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Motile aquatic microorganisms are known to self-organize into bioconvection patterns. The swimming activity of a population of microorganisms leads to the emergence of macroscopic patterns of density under the influence of gravity. Although long-term development of the bioconvection pattern is important in order to elucidate the possible integration of physiological functions of individuals through bioconvection pattern formation, little quantitative investigation has been carried out. In the present paper, we present the first quantitative description of long-term behavior of bioconvection of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, particularly focusing on the attern transition response'. The pattern transition response is a sudden breakdown of the steady bioconvection pattern followed by re-formation of the pattern with a decreased wavelength. We found three phases in the pattern formation of the bioconvection of C. reinhardtii: onset, steady-state 1 (before the transition) and steady-state 2 (after the transition). In onset, the wavelength of the bioconvection pattern increases with increasing depth, but not in steady-states 1 or 2. By means of the newly developed two-axis view method, we revealed that the population of C. reinhardtii moves toward the bottom of the experimental chamber just before the pattern transition. This indicates that the pattern transition response could be caused by enhancement of the gyrotaxis of C. reinhardtii as a result of the changes in the balance between the gravitactic and gyrotactic torques. We also found that the bioconvection pattern changes in response to the intensity of red-light illumination, to which C. reinhardtii is phototactically insensitive. These facts suggest that the bioconvection pattern has a potential to drastically reorganize its convection structure in response to the physiological processes under the influence of environmental cues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4557-4566
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Dec
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioconvection
  • Gravitaxis
  • Gyrotaxis
  • Phase transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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