Effect of temperature and time on the ciliary function of <i>Tetrahymena thermophila</i> based on food vacuole formation


  • Surekha Gangar
  • Shayini Kanageswaran
  • Siana Lai
  • Anne Persson


The objective of this experiment was to determine the effect of time and temperature on the ciliary function of the single-celled eukaryote Tetrahymena thermophila. The movement of cilia is vital for food ingestion by phagocytosis in this organism, therefore, food vacuole formation was used as a measurement of ciliary action. Based on previous literature, we predicted that the number of food vacuoles formed would increase with temperature and time. We counted the number of food vacuoles formed in 10 cells at 15-minute intervals for one hour at 25°C, 30°C and 35°C. The number of food vacuoles formed increased over time at all treatment temperatures, and at 60 minutes 25°C had the highest number of food vacuoles while 30°C had the lowest. Cells in the 30°C and 35°C treatments displayed a sharp increase in number of vacuoles formed at 30 minutes and then smaller increases thereafter. Based on a two-way ANOVA we were able show that temperature and time, when considered separately, had an effect on number of food vacuoles formed, and that there was no interaction between these two factors. Our observed trends were different than previous studies, likely due to uncertainty and variation in our experiment. Based on our results, we were unable to conclude that increasing temperature results in increased ciliary function.