Paramecium has been known for more than a century and since its discovery outstanding scientists investigated this little animal to learn about its biology. Soon, however, Paramecium was also used as a model for the study of basic biological phenomena, many of which are still enigmatic today, and there are numerous reasons why Paramecium is the object of choice for the study of very heterogeneous problems. The size of this protozoon favors light microscopic as well as electron microscopic investigations, microsurgical and electrophysiological experiments. The latter are especially tempting, because Paramecium is a motile organism with simple but pronounced behavioral reactions. This big ciliate is frequently the host for other microorganisms and therefore suitable for the study of different types of endocytobiosis. Paramecium can be grown in mass cultures even in axenic media, thus facilitating studies of its molecular biology and biochemistry (see Chapter 16 by Schultz and Klumpp), and such biochemical studies are often supported by the availability of mutants. In fact, the genetics of Mendelian and cytoplasmic inheritance in Paramecium has a long history, and still new results are obtained. The genetic approaches were encouraged by the increasing knowledge on the sexuality and cell cycle of Paramecium.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.