Life on the “surface” of a droplet – Chilodonella (ciliate) 

If you ever wonder about our life on this “little” blue planet – you soon realize this is a small little round world; and you can go in any direction but you always come back to the same place. Live on a surface of a sphere has its funny sides too – you never reach the edge and so have an endless track to walk on. 

Today, I want to share a recent data set I collected of a ciliate trapped on a droplet of “cytoplasmic” droplet. Something I am very excited about and pursuing seriously. It’s fascinating in a million ways – here is a ciliate that is trapped on the surface of a droplet – so it’s world is the surface of a tiny little drop of water. 

Friends, If you followed my last posts on “Mother’s Day flowers” – you know how I got the same. Also; I use the same “Foldscope focus locking” technique to image and just a simple table lamp as light source. So if you have a Foldscope; you should be able to get this resolution videos with the same. 

The ciliate we have at hand is a Chilodonella. It’s a common ciliate and often confused with Tetrahymena. But in this video; not only will you see it from the top but also from the side view – since it moves in a three dimensional trajectory on the surface of a droplet sphere. Without further delay – here is the video. 

Here is another video of the same – slightly zoomed out. 

What you are seeing are multiple ciliates; but a few of them are trapped and “surfing” a droplet of water. After this first experiment, I have been able to replicate this work and indeed I am pursuing this more deeply as a scientific study now. More on that in a later post – but I will highlight a few important observations: 

1) the technique allows me to see the entire 3D structure of the ciliate. 

2) this will not work for all ciliates; but only the one that actually interact with surfaces. 

3) here the droplet is actually “cytoplasm” of another ciliate. This is the fluid filled inside a ciliate – and when they die; a little droplet is ejected out. Here is another video of cytoplasmic droplets – oozing out of ciliates; although I will make a detailed post again on the same. 

4) the ciliate is covered with dense cilia on on surface; shaped like a turtle and crawls along on all kind of surfaces. This locomotion strategy is fascinating. 

With this series; I am starting to plan experiments that focus on single cells. If you are excited about studying single cells using a Foldscope; please leave a comment below. 



4 Comments Add yours

  1. Cristina says:

    These videos are superb!!! If I am not wrong, some Streptococcus can be seen too! Are you using high mag lens ? If they interact in the cell’s cytoplasm, then what we see in the left can be the nucleus?

  2. laksiyer says:

    @Manu. You get the most amazing clarity. Every part of your field of view is well focused. What a fascinating observation about the droplet. I wonder if the ciliates are scavenging for resources on the cytoplasmic droplet. I cant wait to read what would happen with tons of droplets. Now you could make droplets filled with different goodies. Macromolecules, DNA, ATP, glucose. What might happen?

  3. laksiyer says:

    @Manu. BTW were you able to culture the Mother’s day ciliate ?

  4. Matthew Rossi says:

    @Manu, the most fascinating thing about this to me is the dimensionality of the ciliate. The ways slides are so often presented and the creatures we look at appear in the scope, the dimensions they occupy are so often washed out by our process that the microcosmos seems to be occupied by two dimensional things. But they’re not, of course, and this way of viewing them shows us their full shape.

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