Form and Function of the Dinoflagellate Transverse Flagellum


  • Gregory Gaines,

    1. Department of Botany, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois 62901, USA and
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    • Department of Oceanography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1W5, Canada.

  • F. J. R. Taylor

    1. Departments of Oceanography and Botany, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T IW5, Canada
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  • This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid of Research from Sigma Xi, the Scientific Honor Society, a research grant from the American Philosophical Society, and funds from the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Office of Research Development and Administration and Department to G. Gaines; and by National Science and Engineering Council of Canada Grant A-6137 to F. J. R. Taylor. We thank Karen Schmitt of the S.I.U.-C. Research Photography and Illustration Facility and Leslie Christian for the line drawings.


A reexamination of the dinoflagellate transverse flagellum in relation to swimming in more than 50 species, using a television recording system, has revealed the following new facts: the flagellar beat always proceeds counterclockwise when seen from the cell apex; the cell always rotates in the direction of the flagellar beat, and fluid is propelled in the opposite direction. These observations can be explained by the actions of flagellar mastigonemes not included in previous models. The shape of the flagellar wave is not isotropic. New explanations are offered for other morphological features of the cell as they relate to swimming.