On Saturday 26th April 2014 a new termite nest was found in a fallen dry eucalyptus log, and named Group 3. A number of termites were collected along with some wood and kept in a moist container. The larger protists have been illustrated in another post.

The termite species has been photographed and a specimen preserved in 95% Ethyl Alcohol for future identification, it is most likely a Lower Termite. Among the larger protist two very small protists were reasonably common. For convenience they are named as Protist 1 & 2.

PROTIST 1: Possible Cthylla

This post investigates two small protists imaged from a second termite from Group 3 using an Olympus APO NA 1.4 oil objective. One very small protist resembles Cthylla sp as described by Erick R James et al in PLOS one March 2013, Vol 8, issue 3 page 2.

Over 20 of the same organism were imaged in the one slide. As can be seen there are distinct similarities and also distinct differences from the type specimens from Erick’s article. Notably is a long trailing straight thick flagella averaging 20 microns behind a body of approx 3-4 microns.There are a number of active anterior flagella (approx 3-4) which are in constant and synchronous waving motion. The body is ovate and has several inclusions and a nucleus. Still images and AVI movies were captured showing the flagella motion and separated flagella. Three still images with 5 micron scale follow. The author will be carrying out further investigations on these interesting protists which appear not to have  been previously described from Australia. The author would appreciate any comments.

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IMAGE 1: Cthylla sp – scale is 5 microns.

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IMAGE 1.2:  Anterior flagella flapped down before waving back to repeat a sequence.

Possible Cthulhu sp web size

IMAGE 1.3: Note curved flagella.

PROTIST 2: Possible Spiromastigotes sp

From the same termite a distinct multi-flagellated protist was imaged. It is slightly larger than protist 1, and has a circular body averaging 4-5 microns. There are numerous long flagella originating from an apical disc and have a distinct radial pattern (Image 2.2). The flagella are individually actively motile and in number average 12-15. The following images illustrate this protist in several orientations.  The author welcomes input from experts. Imaged with UPlanSAPO 1.4NA oil objective.

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IMAGE 2.1: Dorsal view with radial flagella in this case some 14-16.

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IMAGE 2.2: “Ventral” view showing the origin of the flagella as a radial group from the apical disc.

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IMAGE 2.3: Another image of the specimen in image 2.1.


IMAGE 2.4: Flagella streaming back from the central origin, a spirochaete is in the background..