Field of Science

Random picture dump: Parabasalid mitosis

I actually went out and did stuff this weekend. Like, non-protist stuff involving geographical locations outside the lab. Incidentally, this weekend also happened to be about the hottest this summer, and heat and I aren't the best of friends. Reading isn't particularly fun on a headache, so I went over my random protist videos and got more screenshots. Most of them should end up in the upcoming 'microforay' sometime soon, but I also found something cool from an adventure way back in May. Not enough material for a microforay, but still wanted to dump it somewhere.

Had to do some stuff with termite (local Zootermopsis) gut symbionts, so I dumped them under DIC for fun. There was the usual gang: Streblomastix, Trichomitopsis, Trichonympha and miscellaneous smaller things. Watching Trichonymphas (they're big and cute enough to be a count noun) can get quite addicting, and the guilt from being responsible for their inevitable death by oxygen poisoning compels you to acquaint yourself with every individual on the slide. At that point, I noticed something was odd about the way some of them moved. Furthermore, their anterior ends appeared if there were two "heads"!

(Once again, apologies for the crappy image quality, but this is the best I can do until I actually have the time to sit down and learn the program.)

OMG, cell division! I still find dividing cells utterly awesome, even just conceptually - it's as if unicellular organisms regularly undergo a "Siamese twin" phase! This is especially evident in organisms who continue to move about and beat their flagella during division, thereby making the two-individuals-in-one concept even more apparent. The cell(s?) usually move(s) around in a fairly incoherent manner at that point, although that might depend on the species too.

Anyway, what's that thing in the middle, between the two "heads"?

As you may have guessed, that thing is indeed the nucleus in mitosis, with spindle fibres all over. With chromosomes. Roughly like these figures from Cleveland (1960 J Protozool):

Top: Whole Trichonympha in early anaphase. Bottom: Close-up of mitotic nucleus. The chromosomes are separated as the thick central spindle grows, pushing apart the centrioles which pull chromosomes along with them via the astral rays. (Cleveland 1960 J Protozool)

Parabasalian mitosis can be quite weird and awesome, but that's a topic for another day. At the moment, I can't even crop properly anymore...ignore that random line in 9a. Just thought I'd share pictures of weird organisms doing cool things.

Oh, and if I ever catch these critters mating, you'll hear it. Potentially even literally ^^


  1. Wow...I must admit they are a lot prettier to look at than bacteria. Bacteria can sometimes have interesting shapes, but the actual differences on even a microscopic level are not very obvious. No frilly things, no furry bits, just blobs...

    Cell division is fun to watch though. Especially when you catch a cell just at the right moment.

  2. It is awesome! I´ve just seen the extremely common paramecium dividing.

  3. Wow! That is genuinely sexy. Except without sex. Um.

    Amazing stuff, yes.


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