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J Eukaryot Microbiol. 2006 Jul-Aug;53(4):269-74.

Food vacuole contents in the ciliate, Balantidium jocularum (Balantididae), a symbiont in the intestine of the surgeonfish, Naso tonganus (Acanthuridae).

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Department of Biological Sciences, Box 5640, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011, USA.


During the past 16 years, the ciliate Balantidium jocularum has been collected from the intestines of many specimens of its fish host, Naso tonganus, all collected from the Great Barrier Reef near Lizard Island, Australia. Ciliates for this study of food consumption were isolated in 1988, 1989, 2003, and 2005. Nineteen specimens of B. jocularum were examined in the transmission electron microscope to determine the contents of both food vacuoles and a putative discharging cytoproct vacuole. Food vacuoles contained rod-shaped bacteria, tightly coiled spirilliform bacteria, and one or more euglenid flagellates. In several balantidia of somewhat different form than the type species of B. jocularum, the large bacterium, Epulopiscium fishelsoni, was observed in light microscope protargol preparations. Some putative phagolysosomes retained spirilliform bacteria that were apparently intact, and others contained partially digested flagellates. Food in a single discharging cytoproct vacuole consisted of normal appearing spirilliform bacteria, some other bacteria, and no flagellates. The results argue for non-selective ingestion of food and selective digestion; hence, somewhat inefficient food processing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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