Nutrition and Feeding Strategies in Protozoa by Brenda Nisbet BSc, PhD (auth.)

By Brenda Nisbet BSc, PhD (auth.)

1 smooth biologists describe protozoa as microscopic eukaryotic organ­ isms with a potential for developing themselves in virtually each con­ ceivable habitat supplied it includes moisture in a few shape. In 1674 on the time while Antony von Leeuwenhoek used to be making his first observations of 'very small animalcules' in Berkelse Mere close to his domestic city of Delft, this idea of the ubiquity of protozoa might were tough to realize. Leeuwenhoek's interest later led him to check the physique fluids, intestine contents and excreta of other animals and to explain 'an inconceivably nice corporation of dwelling animalcules, and those of divers kinds and sizes'. right here have been early des­ criptions of parasitic protozoa, species which later got here to be recog­ nized as Opalina, Giardia, Trichomonas and others. Following his pioneering paintings within the box of microscopic statement, wisdom of protozoa has amassed at an accelerating speed. a few 30,000 residing species were pointed out, and an equivalent variety of fossil species, from habitats which variety from the sea waters to the exuvial fluid of bugs. The research of protozoan meals is a very attention-grabbing element of this increasing box of zoology. what sort of nourishment do protozoa desire, how do they acqlire it, and what impression do the solutions to those questions havE on the place protozoa stay? the necessity to be sure what concealed of foodstuff protozoa are using of their setting is fascinating in al ecological stories concerning micro­ organisms of aquatic communities.

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Hypotrich ciliates such as Oxytricha fal/ax with their 'walking' cirri, are particularly well-adapted for browsing on surfaces and probably take a variety of particulate food rather non-selectively. Frontonia and Nassula are grazers over the mixed growth, with Nassula selectively ingesting cyanobacteria filaments. The foregoing pages have presented a brief review of freshwater habitats for protozoa, emphasizing the physical characteristics of the water in addition to nutrient status. In very general terms the most favourable conditions are to be found in the benthos of a shallow lake some one or two metres in depth, which is moderately eutrophic and shallow enough to escape thermal stratification and deoxygenation.

Their cyst-forming habits and non-selective bacterial feeding are pointers to success. Naeglena gruberi, possibly the most common small amoeba, glides over the substratum 'by means of more or less eruptive, hyaline hemispherical bulges'. Its ability to transform temporarily into a biflagellate organism (non-feeding) in response to a sudden influx of water or to encyst for long periods in times of drought are obvious advantages. The many testate amoebae with their protective shells thrive particularly in mossy soils and acid soils, and leaf litter.

Many studies of marine ciliate populations have been made, emphasizing particularly the relationships within ecosystems and the types of food which ciliates choose (Borror, 1968; Burkovsky, 1978; Dragesco, 1960; Faure-Fremiet, 1950, 1951b; Fenchel, 1968, 1969; Hartwig, 1973, 1977; Hartwig and Parker, 1977; Smith, 1978). Although inter-tidal and brackish-water ciliates have attracted the most attention, for they are abundant and easy to sample, planktonic ciliates have their own special interest.

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