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Title: The feeding behaviour of the marine ciliate, Euplotes mutabilis
Author: Wilks, Sandra Ann
ISNI:       0000 0001 3568 5781
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 1998
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A detailed investigation into the feeding behaviour of the marine, hypotrich ciliate, Euplotes mutabilis has been made. The ciliates are important components of the marine food web, having a pivotal role in carbon and nutrient transfer to higher trophic levels. While our understanding of their role has increased, we still do not fully understand their behaviour. By using inert microspheres, the effects of particle size were examined. E. mutabilis is able to ingest particles from a wide range of sizes (0.57 to 10 μm diameter), but exhibits a clear and distinct spectrum, with particles of approximately 2-3 μm diameter being taken at the highest rate (both in terms of the number and volume ingested). When offered 'real' food items (fluorescently-labelled and live, algae and cyanobacteria), these were taken in preference to the artificial particles (with the exception of the alga, Isochrysis galbana), but not exclusively. Experiments using two different particles, found that the presence of a second particle (whether it differed in terms of size or type) did influence the uptake of both and clear selection of the preferred one was observed. Such selection indicates some degree of chemosensory behaviour by the ciliate. Use of a variety carbohydrate residues could be localised on the cell surface. The lectin, concanavalin A (con A) bound specifically to an area near the mouth and was then internalised with the developing food vacuole. In contrast, wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) bound to 8 - 9 oral membranelles on the anterior section of the adoral zone. These are both potential sites for particle acceptance or rejection. This study has shown feeding behaviour to be complex and influenced by a variety of factors. With a greater understanding of the feeding behaviour of this group of organisms, we can improve our knowledge of their importance within the microbial food web.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Predator-prey dynamics; Lectin binding