Tuesday, March 22, 2011


In my biology lab today I looked at Paramecia. They looked like this:

Normal people would think me strange, but AREN'T THEY ADORABLE?!? You can't see in this photo, but their contractile vacuole's pretty awesome. I found one that was dying and watched its contractile vacuole contract in a desperate attempt to stay alive.

This lab made me wish I could get an amoeba to look at.

Which reminds me of the Naegleria fowler, dubbed the Brain-eating amoeba. 

But getting back to my paramecium. 

At first I had a bunch of them without the quieting solution, and I have to say these things are fast! I did find one that was moving a bit slowly, it might have been dying. I was going to name it but I wasn't sure what would be a suitable name for a single-celled microbe. 

Then we got to feed our Paramecium yeast! I must say that yeast is tiny, they looked like fish eggs in comparison to the Paramecium. But that might have been because they were dyed with congo-red and therefore took on a more caviar like appearance being round and clumped together and all. 

So upon feeding my Paramecium, I added the quieting solution and gave them some time to eat. Then I found a cluster of them. I think they were trying to move around but since they were all bunched together and in each others way it was more difficult. Eventually one got out so I followed it around for a bit. I named it Fasty since it was fast, it was also a bit fat as far as Paramecia went...

Anyways, Fasty ate a bunch of yeast was was already digesting them by the time I found it, so I got a bit bored of it after a while. Then I realized I had to find a less mobile Paramecium to draw for my actual assignment. 

After much scanning I found one that really wasn't doing much, I later realized that it was probably not doing much because it was dying (as mentioned before). But regardless it was a wonderful specimen to make a good sketch of! 

It was also around this point that other people decided that since they couldn't find a paramecium on 40x lens they would hijack my mine since I'm clearly awesome and able to use a microscope efficiently. I didn't really mind since I already finished my drawing. So I let the crowd of people gather.

Then when the last person was having a look, she tapped my shoulder and asked if the paramecium had exploded. At first I was curious since I did know that this was a dying paramecium, but as far as I knew microbes did not undergo cell apoptosis. So I had a look. 

AND IT WAS TRUE! My poor dying paramecium had been ruptured sometime when everyone was watching it! It's contractile vacuole wasn't even pumping water anymore! I was saddened. 

Of course the Paramecia deaths do not end there. At the end of the lab I looked for them in my slide again and wondered why I couldn't find any when I had previously seen one wherever I looked. Then I realized; the slide had dried up. So I looked around for shriveled up paramecia, but then realized that they had all converged quite unshriveled at the bottom right corner of the slide. Of course they were all dead. But I took this as an opportunity to examine them closer and saw the 3D shape of the cell much more easily.

So lesson learned today: microbes are awesome when they're alive and much easier to examine when dead. Much like the rest of the world.

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