Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology
Blepharisma americanum, a member of the understudied ciliate class Heterotrichea, has a moniliform somatic macronucleus that resembles beads on a string. Blepharisma americanum is distinguishable by its pink coloration derived from the autofluorescent pigment blepharismin and tends to have a single somatic macronucleus with 3–6 nodes and multiple germline micronuclei. We used fluorescence confocal microscopy to explore the DNA content and amplification between the somatic and germline nuclei of B. americanum through its life cycle. We estimate that the DNA content of the macronucleus and micronucleus are 43 ± 8 Gbp and 83 ± 16 Mbp respectively. This correlates with an approximate DNA content difference of 500-fold from micronucleus to macronucleus and a macronuclear ploidy of ~1,100 N as compared to the presumably diploid micronucleus. We also investigate a previously reported macronuclear inclusion, which is present sporadically across all life cycle stages; this inclusion looks as if it contains blepharismin based on its fluorescent properties, but its function remains unknown. We also provide additional detail to our understanding of life cycles changes in B. americanum by analyses of fluorescent images. Overall, the data analyzed here contribute to our understanding of the diversity of nuclear architecture in ciliates by providing details on the highly polyploid somatic macronucleus of B. americanum.
Confocal, fluorescence, genome amplification, nucleus
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Wancura, Megan M.; Yan, Ying; Katz, Laura A.; and Maurer-Alcalá, Xyrus X., "Nuclear Features of the Heterotrich Ciliate Blepharisma americanum: Genomic Amplification, Life Cycle, and Nuclear Inclusion" (2018). Biological Sciences: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.