Microfauna around lichens

My friend Chandrika brought me a sample of these beautiful lichens  from Bangalore, with the hope of finding Tardigrades in them.

We soaked one of the samples in RO water.

After 5-6 hours, with great enthusiasm I started to hunt for tardigrades but no luck! In every single sample I observed, that very familiar guest – a rotifer – came into my field of view. Over the next week I saw in this sample different types of ciliates like Colpoda and Paramoecium.

Then the water dried up. So I added some more RO water and continued observing the water drops. By this time the lichens had started to disintegrate. And then, I saw this purple-coloured thallus!

One of the ciliates seems to be undergoing binary fission! Can anyone help to identify it?

What could this be? Slowly moving like amoeba – exactly how I imagined amoeboid movement in my school days! An amoeba — how did it get into lichens growing on a tree trunk??!!

More rotifers and ciliates! This time a nematode joined in attendance under my Foldscope.

After two days I observed a moving black structure which at first resembled an insect, then I noticed long blunt pseudopodia emerging out of one end! Could it be an Amoeba in a cyst? Internet search hinted it could be a testate Amoeba. Happily, then @laksiyer told us it is a type of testate amoeba called ‘Difflugia’.

Were testate amoebae really found in Lichens? Yes! Said a paper on lichen microfauna from Lithuania, which also suggested the title of this post. Thank you, Ingrida Šatkauskienė!

Along this journey I noticed two remarkable incidents.

The first was a ciliate which had a fine filament trailing behind it. Was it a fungal filament from the lichen, stuck on the cilia of the ciliate?

The second was a dynamic drama between a rotifer and ciliates! In this video you see a rotifer rapidly grabbing and swallowing ciliates. Do you think the ciliates are attacking the rotifer too?

Though I did miss the Tardigrades, I thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful new discoveries hidden in this sample!



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Manu Prakash says:

    @TCIS what a stunning example of a post – with biodiversity pouring out from a single sample. This is a true example of surprises in the microscopic world – who knew lichen were household for so many creatures. Absolutely beautiful work!


  2. laksiyer says:

    Lovely lovely. I seemed to have missed a lot thanks to the coronavirus shutdown. Those little ciliates that are still and take-off like a Harrier are likely to be cyclidium. I have spent hours observing them to see if there is a way to capture the cause of their rapid takeoff. I think there is some of interest waiting to be discovered. https://microcosmos.foldscope.com/?p=75160

    That kidneys shaped ciliate is Colpidium. almost always found in these samples. They sometimes undergo gigantism and can cannibalize others like them.

    Love the Diffulgia video. Unendingly fascinating. Never seem them in lichens around my house.

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