, Volume 152, Issue 2–3, pp 77–86 | Cite as

Localization of chitin on ultrathin sections of cysts of two ciliated protozoa,Blepharisma undulans andPseudomicrothorax dubius, using colloidal gold conjugated wheat germ agglutinin

  • M. Mulisch
  • K. Hausmann


The cyst walls of the ciliatesBlepharisma undulans andPseudomicrothorax dubius were examined ultrastructurally and by postembedding labeling with wheat germ agglutinin (WGA)-gold conjugate. Different methods of fixation and embedding were performed. In all procedures, WGA-gold binds selectively to material of the cyst wall. Pretreatment of the sections with chitinase inhibits labeling. The cyst walls of both species contain 3 nm fibrils, which are supposed to be of chitinous nature. In the cyst wall ofB. undulans, several thin layers of WGA-binding fibrils are interspaced with thick layers of other material. InP. dubius, WGA-binding sites are mainly concentrated in the mesocyst, where the microfibrils appear to represent the major component. These results obtained from two phylogenetically distant species confirm that chitin synthesis is an ancestral feature of ciliated protozoa. The amount and distribution of the chitin fibrils may play an important role in the properties and functions of the wall of the resting cyst.


Ciliates Chitin Cysts Blepharisma Pseudomicrothorax Wheat germ agglutinin-gold 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Mulisch
    • 1
  • K. Hausmann
    • 2
  1. 1.Zoological Institute, Department of Experimental MorphologyUniversity of KölnKöln
  2. 2.Institute of General Zoology, Division of ProtozoologyFree University of BerlinBerlin

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