Tetrahymena thermophila is one of a handful of “model organisms” that also includes yeast, fruit flies, nematode worms, zebrafish and mice. Like the other model organisms, it is relatively easy to keep in the laboratory, and lends itself well to experimental manipulation and analysis. Tetrahymena has been an important contributor for information on cell motility—especially cilia (pictured here in red) and related proteins (one of which is pictured here in green). It has also been involved in at least two Nobel Prizes: the first, in 1989, for the discovery of ribozymes, and the second, in 2009, for the discovery of the structure of telomeres and the roles of telomere shortening in cellular ageing (senescence) and chromosomal instability.
A super resolution light microscope image of the surface (or cortex) of Tetrahymena thermophila where red is labeling the microtubules of the cilia and green is labeling a microtubule-associated protein or MAP.
Mayukh Guha PhD and Jacek Gaertig PhD, Department of Cellular Biology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA