Life at microscopic length scales is dense. As we often say, a tiny drop of a pond is “teeming”. So isn’t it obvious that they will physically interact with each other. After watching the video I am about to share; I wondered – old micro-organisms have a secret “handshake”.
The idea is simple. Can single cell eukaryotes actually identify similar species while interacting with each other physically. When we bump into another fellow human being – we do a hand shake. So could microorganisms – specially ciliates – advance single cell organisms have a secret hand shake to detect each other.
Here is a video of a common ciliate – Chilodonella (most likely) taken with a Foldscope (140x) and light module (hence the blue color).
What’s interesting to note is they form a cluster; and every time one of them is about to get out of the cluster configuration – it turns around and joins back. The cluster stayed for another minute or so; and suddenly – just like that; disappeared. These observations point to complexity of behavior of single celled organisms – and how much we still have left to learn from such simple observations.
Now; if you have followed our Foldscope community for a while; you know of @Laks (Foldscope user) observations on a series of micro-organisms interacting with each other and “deciding” to disintegrate at a sudden notice (go to the bottom of the post for the video).
As a community, we are starting to document many fascinating behaviors of live micro-organisms that are not understood. This fascinating ecological observations have a potential to truly expand our knowledge of what “life” is really like at the small scale. Making a database of microorganism behavior would be a wonderful endeavor I would invite other Foldscope users to join. Please share what strange behavior you have observed with your Foldscope.