The Stalked Ciliate Campanella sp. Colonize Stoneworts (Nitella)

  • Author: Michael Witty 1
    Affiliations: 1: Math and Science Department, Florida SouthWestern State College, Fort Myers, FL, 33919
  • Citation: Michael Witty. 2009. The stalked ciliate campanella sp. colonize stoneworts (nitella).
  • Publication Date : August 2009
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Campanella sp. are single-celled colonial ciliates with stalks that attach to a solid substratum (5).  They feed using rings of cilia (4) which create vortices that draw food to the cell surface, where it may be engulfed.  Campanella sp. are stalked epiphytes; they require a solid support to allow their cells to remain stationary in the center of a vortex while food particles blow towards their buccal cavity, depleting their environment of particulate matter.  This epiphytic life style allows them to take advantage of the supporting structures of other organisms rather than constructing their own.  Campanella sp. show rapid feeding motions and slow motions of organelles that may be detected using video microscopy.  Cytoplasmic streaming is shown in fast motion to show rotation of organelles.  Solid support for these protistans may be provided by green algae such as Nitella. 


A water sample containing Nitella from Godfrey Lake, New Jersey, was examined using conventional bright-field microscopy.  When Campanella sp. were located, their motion was recorded using a Pupil Cam attachment (Ken-A-Vision, Kansas City, MO).


Nitella is a macroscopic alga with very thin branched filaments (1), common in slightly acidic lakes and streams such as those of the New Jersey Pine Barrens (3).  They may be invasive algae and sometimes contribute bulk to zones near the surface of nutrient-rich lakes and shade lower plants, which contributes to the eutrophication process (2).   Unlike Vorticella, Campanella stalks are not contractile.  This may be a physiological disadvantage to them when avoiding impacts from large particles, or Campanella may occupy niches where this expensive mechanism is not required.


1.  John, D. M.  2003.  Filamentous and plantlike green algae, p. 331 and 339.  In W. D. Wehr and R. G. Sheath (ed.), Freshwater algae of North America.  Academic Press, New York, NY. 

2.  Lembi, C. A.  2003.  Control of nuisance algae, p. 805–826.  In W. D. Wehr and R. G. Sheath (ed.), Freshwater algae of North America.  Academic Press, New York, NY.

3.  Sheath, R. G., and K. M. Cole.  1992.  Biogeography of stream macroalgae in North America.  J. Phycol. 28:448–460.

4.  Shi, X., A. Warren, Y. Yu, and Y. Shen.  2004.  Infraciliature and myoneme system of Campanella umbellaria (Protozoa, Ciliophora, Peritrichida).  J. Morphol. 261(1):43–51.

5.   Taylor, W. D., and R. W. Sanders.  2001.  Protozoa.  In J. H. Thorp and A. P. Covich (ed.), Ecology and classification of North American freshwater invertebrates, 2nd ed.  Academic Press, New York, NY.

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