Paramecium and other ciliates

I started my first ciliate culture today. Here’s a first peek at the culture- you should notice tiny bacteria swimming around and some hay.


I quickly spotted my first ciliate – this is a paramecium  – as can be identified by its characteristic ‘slipper’ shape. You can clearly see the hundreds of cilia lining its edges and beating to an invisible tune. See if you can find the following : 1. Oral groove. 2. Food vacuoles at the base of the oral groove (gullet) — it appears to ‘pop’ or deflate at 13s, 20s and 28 s. You should also notice the tiny moving things inside the paramecium as well as outside – at one point one of them gets trapped in the cilia (on the lower side of the paramecium).


I was initially sad that the paramecium just remained stuck in one spot – but lo and behold, it started to move and make strange twisting motions. I am amazed at the shape of its body – and kept staring at this video for over and over again.

And then as a fish takes to water, it decide to do long ‘laps’. It was just swims around like a microscopic fish – what a pleasant sight! I had so much fun watching it glide along, then change direction. I’m thinking about the whiplash movement created by the cilia as they change directions – going from the power stroke to the recovery stroke.

I was looking around for didinium’s and scanned the rest of the slide – and happened upon this happy camper. My initial reaction was that this might be a didinium cyst – but on second thought I think it is a volvox (flagellate, not a ciliate) since I can also identify the small asexual daughter colonies inside. If you have a better idea, please let me know.

And finally – the ciliate I had been hunting for – didinium. It gave me a glance and disappeared from view. It is incredible how fast it swims and zig-zags around.

I have a culture going and will proceed with a hay inoculation as described by Laks in a previous post – looking forward to cultivating my own ciliate pets – and hopefully making a longer movie with the didinium’s.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Manu Prakash says:

    @saad: that is some of the most beautiful Foldscope videos I have ever seen – and I have seen a lot. What incredible beauty. So much hidden right in front of our eyes. Love how they turn. In fact – I have never seen a paramecium in my own cultures. So you are quiet lucky to find them day one.

    Just absolutely beautiful. Your tracking is also perfect. One secret that you seem to have mastered is to only change field of view when necessary. Also; I think I am seeing fungal hypa in your videos; which are used to trap other organisms. Beautiful.

    The cyst is a mystery – not enough information to mark it. Grow them up; let’s see what you find 🙂


  2. laksiyer says:

    Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Paramecium and Didinium are a great pair to have in a culture. I love the contractile vacuole of Paramecium. If possible try the Janus Green experiment to see mitochondria. Ask Manu about it. Truly you have an endless entertainment awaiting you. Next to the giant are some some flagellates in the second video. Look out for their explosion too. Paramecium is great fun with India ink. That singleton is not volvox, it is a flagellate though. We just have to observe it a bit more. Cant wait to see what else you will discover.

  3. Saad Bhamla says:

    @manu @laks…

    Thank you! you guys are my inspiration to start this ciliates experiment – i am so excited to have finally started my own culture at home!!

    @laks – will look into the staining – i have so many ideas to try confining and slowing down the ciliates so i can image them better! :))


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