Schematic drawing of Cafeteria roenbergensis (Heterokonta: Bicosoecida) with two unequal (heterokont) flagella: an anterior straminipilous (with tubular tripartite mastigonemes) and a posterior smooth
A chrysomonad (Heterokonta: Chrysophyceae) under TEM, with a smooth flagellum (1) and another covered with mastigonemes (3)
Two crysomonads (Chrysophyceae) under SEM, with less conspicuous mastigonemes

Mastigonemes are lateral "hairs" found covering the flagella of heterokont and cryptophyte algae.[1] They are approximately 15 nm in diameter, and usually consist of a tubular shaft that itself terminates in smaller "hairs". It is believed that they assist in locomotion by increasing the surface area of a flagellum.

Typology of flagella with hairs:[2][3][4][5][6]

  • whiplash flagella (= smooth, acronematic flagella): without hairs, e.g., in Opisthokonta
  • hairy flagella (= tinsel, flimmer, pleuronematic flagella): with hairs (= mastigonemes sensu lato), divided in:


  1. ^ Hoek, C. van den, Mann, D. G. and Jahns, H. M. (1995). Algae : An introduction to phycology, Cambridge University Press, UK.
  2. ^ Webster & Weber (2007).
  3. ^ South, G.R. & Whittick, A. (1987). Introduction to Phycology. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford. p. 65, [1].
  4. ^ Barsanti, Laura; Gualtieri, Paolo (2006). Algae: anatomy, biochemistry, and biotechnology. Florida, USA: CRC Press. pp. 60-63, [2]
  5. ^ Dodge, J.D. (1973). The Fine Structure of Algal Cells. Academic Press, London. pp. 57-79, [3]
  6. ^ Lee, R. E. (2008). Phycology (4th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 7, [4].