Field of Science

Sunday Protist - Ciliate-in-a-basket: Dictyocysta

Crazy days this week (and possibly next), so a short one. This tintinnid ciliate has a particularly beautiful lorica:

SEM of Dictyocysta in its lorica. Scalebar = 40µm (Agatha 2010 J Euk Microbiol)

Tintinnids construct their loricas out of proteins and polysaccharides, and some species attach matter from their surroundings. There's a few interesting stories involving them, but I still need to finish the post on that. Tintinnids are only very distantly related to Folliculinids, and both evolved their loricae independently from each other. Several other lineages of ciliates also construct tests, but Tintinnids and Folliculinids are the most prominent ones. And have cool names.

Two midterms this week, midterm and lab exam the week after, writing my GREs in three weeks, blankly staring at grad school apps and trying to find a way to justify my existence in 500 words or less for the personal statements (You must be so jealous of me, I know). Also need to finish a bunch of stuff for work – was too distracted this past week.

Blogging-wise, I'm hosting the upcoming MolBiol Carnival; you should submit early and often so that I don't have to fake data posts. Faking posts is baaaad. Don't make do it. Here's the link to save me from immoral temptations: LINK. <-- click there and submit to the carnival. (intentionally ambiguous, mwahaha) I'll also be writing up a very interesting seminar talk involving molecular biol, mutation, genomes, introns, popgen and really cool evolution stories. The topics are a bit intense, so it may take me a while to understand it in a way that's not outright wrong, but very soon there'll be a continuation of my non-adaptive evolution series. To get you more excited, the speaker in question is Michael Lynch!

Oh, and I will finish Part III of In Defense of Constructive Neutral Evolution as soon as I can get around to it. Apparently some of you actually do care, so I must return the favour =D

Not enough time in the day to get everything done. Damn you, physics! (I'd imagine that slowing down Earth's revolutions would have drastic side effects wiping out all cumbersome macroscopic life in an instant. Prokaryotes, and possibly even unicellular protists, wouldn't mind much though).


  1. More CNE and non-adaptive stuff coming soon! Yupi!!!

  2. A question: when, how and why was Gonyaulax polyedra renamed Lingulodinium polyedrum? It messes up with literature searches as so much work was done on it in mid-late 20th century. What do you know about it? Are a blog post or a drawing something you'd want to do?

  3. I'll look into it...thus far, I don't seem to have access to any of the potentially relevant papers (paywalls and lack of digitisation >.<), but should come across something eventually. In any case, got a local dino expert I can ask...

    May well be a case of a cyst being described as one thing and misidentified as a life stage of another, and later the cyst belongs to a third thing and the usual taxonomic chaos follows.

  4. I haven't seen the original paper establishing the new combination, but Fensome et al. (1993) placed Gonyaulax and Lingulodinium in separate subfamilies (Gonyaulacoideae vs. Cribroperidinioideae) due to differences in the arrangement of plates in the theca.


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