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© 2017 The Author(s). Background: Random insertional mutagenesis of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii using drug resistance cassettes has contributed to the generation of tens of thousands of transformants in dozens of labs around the world. In many instances these insertional mutants have helped elucidate the genetic basis of various physiological processes in this model organism. Unfortunately, the insertion sites of many interesting mutants are never defined due to experimental difficulties in establishing the location of the inserted cassette in the Chlamydomonas genome. It is fairly common that several months, or even years of work are conducted with no result. Here we describe a robust method to identify the location of the inserted DNA cassette in the Chlamydomonas genome. Results: Insertional mutants were generated using a DNA cassette that confers paromomycin resistance. This protocol identified the cassette insertion site for greater than 80% of the transformants. In the majority of cases the insertion event was found to be simple, without large deletions of flanking genomic DNA. Multiple insertions were observed in less than 10% of recovered transformants. Conclusion: The method is quick, relatively inexpensive and does not require any special equipment beyond an electroporator. The protocol was tailored to ensure that the sequence of the Chlamydomonas genomic DNA flanking the random insertion is consistently obtained in a high proportion of transformants. A detailed protocol is presented to aid in the experimental design and implementation of mutant screens in Chlamydomonas.

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Plant Methods