Evolutionary bioenergetics of ciliates

Michael Lynch, Paul E. Schavemaker, Timothy J. Licknack, Yue Hao, Arianna Pezzano

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Understanding why various organisms evolve alternative ways of living requires information on both the fitness advantages of phenotypic modifications and the costs of constructing and operating cellular features. Although the former has been the subject of a myriad of ecological studies, almost no attention has been given to how organisms allocate resources to alternative structures and functions. We address these matters by capitalizing on an array of observations on diverse ciliate species and from the emerging field of evolutionary bioenergetics. A relatively robust and general estimator for the total cost of a cell per cell cycle (in units of ATP equivalents) is provided, and this is then used to understand how the magnitudes of various investments scale with cell size. Among other things, we examine the costs associated with the large macronuclear genomes of ciliates, as well as ribosomes, various internal membranes, osmoregulation, cilia, and swimming activities. Although a number of uncertainties remain, the general approach taken may serve as blueprint for expanding this line of work to additional traits and phylogenetic lineages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12934
JournalJournal of Eukaryotic Microbiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022


  • Paramecium
  • Tetrahymena
  • bioenergetics
  • ciliates
  • evolutionary cell biology
  • osmoregulation
  • ribosomes
  • swimming motility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology


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