Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Yang, Pinfen

Second Advisor

Abbott, Allison

Third Advisor

Stuart, Rosemary


Cilia and flagella are synonymous organelles that protrude above the cell surface to propel fluid and monitor signals in the environment. These functions are central to human development and health, as well as for numerous organisms to thrive in their natural habitats. Pioneering studies of their fundamental mechanisms heavily rely on the biflagellate green alga, Chlamydomonas. One example is the extensive characterization of bidirectional intraflagellar transport (IFT), a transport system that perpetually delivers flagellar components between the base and the tip of the flagella. Such characterization has resulted in the discovery of numerous evolutionarily conserved genes crucial for flagella growth and function. Yet, intense autofluorescence emitted mostly from photosynthesis pigments has prevented visualization of flagellar protein trafficking deeper into the Chlamydomonas cell body, a process presumably tightly coupled to IFT. This thesis project explored 1) an array of fluorescent proteins with various intensities and spectra, 2) filter sets to distinguish signals against background, and 3) a new strategy for tagging a protein of interest a string of fluorescent proteins. Through a combination of optimizations, a candidate new transit center and possible intracellular trafficking modalities have been identified. These pivotal findings will stimulate novel research questions that will address important questions in flagellar biology and will also make many obscured processes visible in the future.

Included in

Biology Commons