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Bicosoeca — flagellate in a wineglass

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Last post of 2012! Hope it was a good year for you all, and that the next will be even better — Happy New Year! Some protists sitting in champagne glasses might be relevant to our interests:

Bicosoecids are non-photosynthetic relatives of brown algae. Usually nestled in a delicate lorica (but sometimes devoid of one), bicosoecids sit attached to a substrate with one flagellum, and wave around the other to bring in bacterial prey to devour. At the base of the flagella is a lip-like structure where the unfortunate prey get engulfed after travelling down the current. When startled, they rapidly withdraw their flagellum into a characteristic spiral, which you can see in the bottom specimen of the group. Most tend to be solitary, but this species forms loricate tree-like colonies, like wineglasses stacked upon each other. Despite their small size and timid appearance, their cell structure is fairly complicated and –hoping you’d agree with me — quite elegant.

Psi Wavefunction About the Author: Psi Wavefunction is a graduate student working with protists (the 'other' eukaryotes) at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and now blogs about protists and evolution at Skeptic Wonder. Follow on Twitter @Ocelloid.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. rugeirn 8:21 pm 01/3/2013

    Thank you. When I read the headline, I thought, oh no, there are flagellates in wine. Which would have stopped me from ever touching the stuff again. But no, it’s the other way around; there are wineglasses in the flagellates. Thank you for that!

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  2. 2. MichaelKovari 11:36 am 01/27/2013

    Lovely blog.
    I don’t see how this shape is a wineglass, as often one fork-like structure (as seen in 2D) appears to grow from another. If they were wineglasses, this would mean one was attached to an arbitrary point on the lip of another wineglass. (Also, how does one organism grow out of another? Do you think one is a child of the other?)

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