Symbiotic Associations Between Ciliates and Prokaryotes

  • Hans-Dieter Görtz
Reference work entry


Ciliates are frequently colonized by bacteria. This is partly due to the cytology and biology of these highly evolved heterotrophic protozoa (Hausmann and Bradbury, 1996). As phagotrophic predators on microorganisms, they bear a high risk of microbial, namely bacterial, infections: ingested bacteria may resist digestion, escape from the phagosomes, and persist in the cells as endocytobionts. Traditionally, intracellular bacteria in ciliates have been termed “symbionts” (Preer et al., 1974). Phagocytosis appears to be the usual way infectious bacteria enter their host cells. In addition to intracellular bacteria, ectosymbionts may be intimately associated with ciliates. The most intriguing example is certainly the epixenosomes of Euplotidium, which even defend their host against predators (Petroni et al., 2000; see also “Terms in Symbiosis Research”).

The bacterial symbionts of ciliates comprise a variety of bacteria in many unrelated genera of different subgroups of...


Ciliate Cell Intracellular Bacterium Bacterial Symbiont Methanogenic Bacterium Food Vacuole 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Supplementary material

Video sequence showing killer trait. For the video, see the online version of The Prokaryotes.
Video sequence showing infection of Paramecium by Holospora. For the video, see the online version of The Prokaryotes.
Video sequence showing release of Holospora. For the video, see the online version of The Prokaryotes.
0-387-30741-9_15_MOESM4_ESM.swf (35 kb)
Video sequence showing the development of Holospora. For the video, see the online version of The Prokaryotes

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