A Study on Resting Cysts of an Oxytrichid Soil Ciliate, Rigidohymena quadrinucleata (Dragesco and Njine, 1971) Berger, 2011 (Ciliophora, Hypotrichia), Including Notes on its Encystation and Excystation Process

Simona Benčaťová,

Eva Tirjaková

This is the first detailed study on the morphology of the resting cysts of an oxytrichid ciliate, Rigidohymena quadrinucleata. Resting cysts were investigated using light microscopy, SEM and TEM. The cyst wall is composed of four distinct layers (from inside to outside), namely the metacyst, the endocyst, the mesocyst and the ectocyst with spine-like protuberances. The cysts of R. quadrinucleata belong to the kinetosome-resorbing (KR) type, which is typical for oxytrichids. The processes of encystation and excystation were observed only in the light microscopy. During the encystation process, the trophic cell changes in shape and volume due to dehydration, four macronuclear nodules fuse into a compact mass, the ciliature is resorbed and cyst wall is formed. The most significant feature is surface ornamentation and yellowish color of resting cysts. We also focuse for the first time on excystation process of R. quadrinucleata. We identified two excystation modes: (i) standard and (ii) rare mode. The beginning of both excystation is characterised by the formation of excystation vacuole which helps the excysting cell to break the cyst wall. The specimen regenerates within a thin, flexible membrane. During the standard mode, the cell leaves the resting cyst in the membrane that is resorbed in the environment. During the rare mode, the excystation vacuole and the pressure of the regenerating cell break the transparent membrane that remains in the resting cyst. The results suggest that not only ciliate resting cysts, but also the excystation process is much more variable than what literature data indicate. 
Słowa kluczowe: Cyst wall, morphology, Oxytrichidae, resting cyst, ultrastructure

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