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Cytometry. 1990;11(8):875-82.

Flow cytometric measurement of rates of particle uptake from dilute suspensions by a ciliated protozoan.

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Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55455.


Flow cytometry is used to measure rates of ingestion of particles from dilute monodisperse suspensions by the ciliate Tetrahymena pyriformis. The particles used are polystyrene microspheres containing a fluorescent dye. Measurements were made directly, that is, by determining the fluorescence intensities from microspheres ingested by cells in samples collected from the experimental feeding apparatus. The fact that fluorescence intensities from individual cells can be grouped into discrete classes based on the numbers of fluorescent particles associated with the cells makes it possible to calibrate the flow cytometer and convert fluorescence measurements into numbers of particles ingested by average cells. At low particle concentration or high ciliate concentration, ingestion data must be corrected for depletion of particles during the assay, and a method for doing this is described. Experiments at various ciliate concentrations show that ingestion rates are not affected by this concentration. The methods developed should allow measurements of rates of ingestion of particles from concentrated and polydisperse suspensions. For such measurements, nonfluorescent particles together with a fraction of fluorescent tracer particles would be used.

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