The mucus belts of the Oscillatoria
by Wan Yu, China

    Summer is the best time for me to collect many sorts of microorganisms from the lakes and pools near my house, where there are a number of small pools and a park. A variety of microorganisms live there; for example, the Oscillatoria. They live together as a small colony, a dark blue green lump.

fig 1: A photo of Oscillatoria:


    The Oscillatoria has a strong life-force so it can live in many places which are bad environments for other organisms. Some people may think it is dirty because of its color and bad smell, but in fact, Oscillatoria is a wonderful kind of organism because it can slide on surfaces. But how can it do that? Maybe it uses mucus, is that so?
Last weekend, I thought out a simple method to make sure of that. I used some Methyl Violet and iodine to dye the Oscillatoria like a Gram stain. When I put the slide under my microscope, I found that there were some light purple belts behind the Oscillatoria ( fig 2 and 3 ). Some of them were very long. So, the Oscillatoria did use mucus for sliding.
fig 2: The mucus belts behind the Oscillatoria.

fig 3:


    As we know, many sorts of diatom and other algae can also slide by means of mucus. We can use this method to observe the mucus belts and do some research.
Contribution by Wan Yu, comments welcomed.

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