Size Effects on the Uptake of Particles by Populations of Tetrahymena pyriformis Cells


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Flow cytometry has been used to make direct measurements of rates of uptake of latex microspheres from dilute, monodisperse suspensions by Tetrahymena pyriformis. Measurements were made for five different sizes of microspheres, ranging from 1.09 to 6.17 μm diameter. Fractions of cells in the population that did not ingest the microspheres offered were also determined. In addition, the size distributions, as indicated by the forward angle light scattering intensity which is measured by the instrument, were determined for the whole population and for the subpopulations of cells that did and did not ingest the particles, for each particle size used. It was found that the fraction of cells that did not ingest the particles was small and independent of particle size when this was less than about 2.7 μm, but increased with particle size when particle size was increased above this value. The so‐called maximum clearance rate, which can be calculated from the data, was found to increase monotonically with particle size if it were based only on those cells which actually ingested the particles offered. However, a plot of maximum clearance rate vs. particle size exhibited a maximum if the clearance rate were based on all cells present in the population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-163
Number of pages7
JournalThe Journal of Protozoology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1990


  • Feeding assay
  • flow cytometry
  • fluorescent particles

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