[Protista] Protozoan swimming style helps detect toxins in water

chatnoir via protista%40net.bio.net (by wolfbat359a from mindspring.com)
Sun Jun 27 20:30:41 EST 2010


Protozoan swimming style helps detect toxins in water

2010-06-21 16:30:00

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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