Paramecium Facts

Paramecium Facts
A paramecium is a single-celled protist (single-celled microscopic organism) found naturally in most water habitats. Paramecia are slipper-shaped or oblong and are covered in cilia, which are short hair-like structures. In the late 1600s paramecium became one of the first ciliates to be seen by microscopists. John Hill, an English microscopist coined the name paramecium in 1752. He applied the term paramecium to animalcules without visible tails or limbs that had an oblong shape. Paramecium can range in length from 0.002 inches to 0.013 inches. Paramecia have several parts including the food vacuoles, micronucleus, gullet, cilia, oral groove, anal pore, macronucleus, and the contractile vacuole.
Interesting Paramecium Facts:
Paramecium move with the help of the cilia which are hair-like structures that create whiplash like movements. This movement is similar to oars moving a boat along.
Paramecia consume yeasts, algae, and bacteria as food. In order to eat they use their cilia to sweep their prey into their oral groove and then into the mouth.
Some paramecia are able to form relationships with other organisms that provide mutual benefit.
Paramecia reproduce through binary fission with means the macronucleus splits, creating micronuclei which then undergo mitosis. This is referred to as asexual reproduction. The offspring from this type of reproduction is identical to the original paramecium.
Paramecia can also reproduce sexually when they are experiencing starvation. Only paramecia of the same species can mate, and only different mating types can mate. The offspring from this type of reproduction is genetically new.
Paramecia are from the protozoa class.
Paramecia have no eyes, no heart, no brain, and no ears.
Paramecia are able to undergo reproduction and digestion even without many of the systems in other organisms.
When a paramecium ingests food it also ingests water, which is pumped out via the vacuole pumps.
Paramecia have a stiff outer cover that gives it its slipper like appearance.
Paramecia can move at a speed of 12 body lengths per second, and are able to quickly reversing its direction when it meets unwanted environments.
There have been more than 80,000 different paramecia species discovered to date, with more emerging as research technology enables scientists to venture further.
The paramecium's mouth is called a cytostome.
The micronucleus of the paramecium has two copies of the paramecium's chromosome - which makes it diploid.
The macronucleus of the paramecium contains as many as 800 copies of each chromosome - which makes it polyploid.
Some species of paramecia are only to undergo binary fission so many times before the paramecium loses its vitality. The species Paramecium tetraurelia is only able to undergo fission 200 times before expiring. If it experiences sexual reproduction before expiring the cell's genetic line can continue.
Some studies suggest that paramecia are able to learn, despite having no nervous system. An experiment showed that cell memory may be possible. An electric volt applied to paramecium made it possible to differentiate brightness levels.
It is estimated that half of the energy used by a paramecium is for the purposes of propelling through the water.

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