[Protista] Protozoan swimming style helps detect toxins in water
(by wolfbat359a from mindspring.com)
Sun Jun 27 20:30:41 EST 2010
Protozoan swimming style helps detect toxins in water
The swimming pattern of protozoa can be a low-cost method of
identifying water toxins, according to a new study.
Several species of protozoa are covered in hair-like cilia that beat
in a coordinated way to propel them through a fluid.
Chemicals in the fluid can interfere with the transport of calcium to
the cilia, with different chemicals bringing about a marked alteration
in the microbes' swimming style, points out Robert Curtis at Petrel
Biosensors, a spin-out of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in
For the study, Curtis's team placed protozoans in test solutions
containing different common toxins, and used a camera to assess the
resulting swimming patterns.
Using these as reference points, the researchers are now developing a
device that uses algorithms to match the microbes' swimming style in a
water sample to the toxin present, if any.
"You can see very distinct patterns of swimming, so we can say if it's
a heavy metal toxin or a phospho-organic toxin," The New Scientist
quoted Curtis, as saying.
According to the company, the instrument will be priced around
Each test will cost 1 to 2dollars and take around 30 seconds, unlike
tests with existing devices, which can cost up to 400dollars and take
two to three days, said Curtis. (ANI)
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