Feeding heterogeneity in ciliate populations: Effects of culture age and nutritional state

Christos Hatzis, Friedrich Srienc, A. G. Fredrickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


We have used a novel approach in conjunction with flow cytometry to quantify the biological heterogeneity of populations of the ciliate Tetrahymena pyriformis. It was found that the rate of particle uptake of exponentially growing cells is not uniform among cells and partially correlated with cell size. The physiological state and growth history of the culture was found to affect to a large degree the population's feeding heterogeneity. Stationary phase populations exhibited more uniform feeding behavior, as cell aging affects all cells and effectively reduces their ability to feed. Cells that were removed from the growth medium and resuspended in nonnutritive medium exhibited a more heterogeneous feeding behavior. The starved cells were stimulated to feed at considerably higher rates, and the stimulatory effect was more pronounced for larger cells. It is therefore demonstrated that population heterogeneity has to be evaluated in conjunction with the populations growth state as it is determined by the history of the population's growth and nutritional state. © 1994 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-380
Number of pages10
JournalBiotechnology and bioengineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 5 1994


  • Tetrahymena pyriformis
  • biological variability
  • distribution of states
  • filter feeding
  • flow cytometry
  • physiological state
  • starvation


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