Workshop "Determination of ciliate species" (german)

Volkshochschule Inzigkofen, 16.-21. September 2019

Begleitmaterial zum Kurs 01133-19

Dipl.-Phys. Thilo Bauer

Participants please contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for the presentation slides.


Doing preparations

Carefully pipette a small water volume. Do not flood your specimen slide.

  1. Use a low volume only.
  2. Thumb rule: Almost no water shall flow away from the cover slide.
  3. Try not to pipette no detritus or sand
  4. Use a binocular to isolate single ciliates for observation 
  5. Squash preparation: Water volume shall be as low as ciliates can hardly swim free
  6. Use vaseline to stabilize the cover slide from movement when using immersion objective.

Sample volumes shall not measure milliliters, but about or less than 50 µl. This is roughly the amount of half the small tip of a plastic pipette of 1 ml volume. Only the large ciliates, wie Blepharisma japonica oder Bursaria truncatella require larger sample volumes. After pipetting the ciliates put them in a moisture chamber for 30 minutes. This helps to calm down the species. Squash preparation: Observe the sample under microscope, while water evaporates. We use this effect to fix the free swimming ciliates and obtain better visualization with standard microscope objectives. The less water the sample contains the quicker the ciliates are fixed. 

Observing ciliates

Observe important characters of the specimen. Try to determine the species using the characters found. Observing technique need to be trained.

  1. Fix the ciliate
  2. Slightly squash the ciliate
  3. Focus to pellicle
  4. Avoid focusssing to the middle of the cell
  5. The eye walks over the whole surface to finde details

Species characters

Important species characters are:

  1. Outer shape
  2. Movements, free swimming
  3. Are cells contractile?
  4. Cilia, cirri and ciliary pattern
  5. Shape and number of macronuclei and micronuclei
  6. Contractile vacuoles: Location, number, shape of canals
  7. How does the peristome look like?
  8. Shape, length and location of extrusopmes

Write down as many characters as you find. Compare with literature, eventually continue new observations to find more. Make photomicrographs and sketches. Focussing to the cell surface requires certain discipline to get shape of peristome and also number and locations of excretory pores of the contractile vacuoles. 

Literature for the determination of species

Alfred Kahl, Urtiere oder Protozoa, Gustav Fischer Verlag (1930-1935). Download: Band 1, Band 2, Band 3, Band 4

W. Foissner et al.: Taxonomische und ökologische Revision der Ciliaten des Saprobiensystems, Bayer. Landesamt f. Wasserwirtschaft. Informationsberichte Heft (1991-1995). Download: Band 1, Band 2Band 3, Band 4

W. Foissner, H. Berger, J. Schaumburg: ldentification and Ecology of Limnetic Plankton Ciliates, Bayer. Landesamt f. Wasserwirtschaft. Informationsberichte Heft 3/99. DownloadOnline-version

Key to Paramecium species:


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