Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description of Vorticella

As with the majority of peritrich ciliates, Vorticella has a bell-shaped body and attached to the substrate by means of a stalk. The stalk is contractile, there is an inner element called the spasmoneme that can contract very rapidly. Contractile elements also extend into the body of the cell so the body rounds up when the cell contracts. Normally, there is a wreath of feeding cilia at the unattached end of the cell, and these create a water current from which small particles of food (mostly bacteria) can be removed and ingested. Vorticella cells usually reproduce by forming a daughter cell that has a basal wreath of cilia. This cell breaks away from the parent, and swims around as a cylindrical telotroch larva. Eventually it settles, attached by the back end, withdraws the basal wreath of cilia, secretes the stalk and changes into a more conical shape. Occasionally, when conditions are not satisfactory, cells may sprout a basal wreath of cilia, break away from their stalk, and swim around settling at another location. This is a solitary species, in that the cells do not form colonies, although it is not unusual to find many individual Vorticella cells living side-by-side and to form a cluster. The behavior of contracting is quite distinctive and because of this, we know that this is one of the first free-living protozoa to be described (by Antony van Leeuwenhoek €“ in the 17th century).
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Ecology

Habitat

Depth range based on 19 specimens in 10 taxa.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 0.75

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 0.75
 
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Depth range based on 1 specimen in 1 taxon.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0.75 - 0.75
 
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Associations

Known predators

Vorticella (Codonella, Vorticella) is prey of:
Molanna
Polycentropus

Based on studies in:
Finland (Lake or pond, Littoral)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • K. Aulio, K. Jumppanen, H. Molsa, J. Nevalainen, M. Rajasilta, I. Vuorinen, Litoraalin merkitys Pyhajarven kalatuotannolle, Sakylan Pyhajarven Tila Ja Biologinen Tuotanto (Lounais-Suomen Vesiensuojeluyhdistys R. Y., Turku, Finland, 1981) 47:173-176.
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Known prey organisms

Vorticella (Codonella, Vorticella) preys on:
detritus

Based on studies in:
Finland (Lake or pond, Littoral)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • K. Aulio, K. Jumppanen, H. Molsa, J. Nevalainen, M. Rajasilta, I. Vuorinen, Litoraalin merkitys Pyhajarven kalatuotannolle, Sakylan Pyhajarven Tila Ja Biologinen Tuotanto (Lounais-Suomen Vesiensuojeluyhdistys R. Y., Turku, Finland, 1981) 47:173-176.
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Wikipedia

Vorticella

Vorticella is a genus of protozoa, with over 16 known species. They are stalked, inverted bell-shaped ciliates, placed among the peritrichs. Each cell has a separate stalk anchored onto the substrate, which contains a contractile fibril called a myoneme. When stimulated, this shortens, causing the stalk to coil like a spring. Vorticella species mainly live in freshwater ponds and streams—generally anywhere protists are plentiful.

Reproduction is by budding, where the cell undergoes longitudinal fission and only one daughter keeps the stalk. The free daughter becomes a telotroch, which swims until it finds suitable substrate to fix and develop its own stalk. They reproduce by fission, which is also known as cell division. They are also capable of reproducing by conjugation, a form of sexual reproduction where two individuals attach at the oral groove and exchange DNA.

Other genera, such as Carchesium, resemble Vorticella, but are branched or colonial.

Vorticella species sometimes stay in clusters or groups considered as colonies, but they are not true colonies because each cell has its own individual stalk. This allows it to detach from the cluster at any time, usually by reverting to a telotroch when environmental conditions are unfavorable.

Common species [edit]


Sequence showing the activation of Vorticella spring and recovery
A telotroch, recently fixed to the substrate, grows its stalk and becomes a vorticella
Vorticella reproducing by cell division
Vorticella under microscope (40x)
Movies of Vorticella contracting and extending - left: Vorticella campanula, right: probably Vorticella convallaria at higher magnification (for full resolution click first on image)
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