The Functional Significance of Evolutionary Modifications found in the Ciliate, Stentor

  • David C. Wood
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 188)


The ciliate protozoan, Stentor coruleus, is notable for the range of its sensory capabilities, the variety of its behavioral responses, and its ability to assume different morphologies. This versatility is well illustrated in H. S. Jennings’s (1906) account of the response of sessile Stentor to carmine particles introduced into the medium surrounding their frontal field. These extended and trumpet-shaped Stentor were reported to respond initially to this irritant by bending to one side. If carmine particles continued to be present, the animals reversed the direction of their ciliary beat, thereby driving the carmine particle-containing fluid away from them. If this also did not remove the carmine particles, the Stentor contracted into a ball. They then went through several cycles of gradual re-extension and all-or-none contraction until finally they detached, assumed a pear-shaped configuration, and swam away. While more recent investigators have found that this behavioral sequence is not reproducible (Reynierse and Walsh, 1967), all the behavioral responses and cellular morphologies described in it are easily observable. In addition, sessile Stentor contract when mechanically stimulated or in response to certain chemicals, and motile Stentor swim away from light sources, as a result of their blue-green pigmentation.


Mechanical Stimulus Vacuolar Membrane Evolutionary Modification Receptor Current Contractile Component 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • David C. Wood
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Behavioral NeurosciencesUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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