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Three-Dimensional Morphological and Mineralogical Characterization of Testate Amebae

  • Eric Armynot du Châtelet (a1), Catherine Noiriel (a2) and Maxence Delaine (a1)


Testate amebae are unicellular shelled protozoa commonly used as indicators in ecological and paleoecological studies. We explored the potential application of three-dimensional (3D) X-ray micro-tomography used in addition to 2D techniques (environmental scanning electron microscopy, electron probe micro-analysis, and cathodoluminescence) for detailed characterization of agglutinated shells of protozoa. We analyzed four specimens of the aquatic testate ameba Difflugia oblonga (Arcellinida), to test whether size distribution and mineral composition of shell grains diverged from sediment size distribution and mineralogical composition. From the 3D images, the geometry of the specimens (size and mass) and of the individual grains forming the specimen (grain size distribution and volume) were calculated. Based on combined chemical, mineralogical, and morphological analyses we show that D. oblonga is able to selectively pick up the small size fraction of the sediment with a preference for low-density silicates close to quartz density (~2.65). The maximum size of the grains matches the size of the pseudostome (shell aperture), suggesting the existence of a physical limit to grain size used for building the shell. This study illustrates the potential of this combined approach to characterize agglutinated shells of protozoa. This data can be useful for detailed morphological studies with applications in taxonomy and ecology.


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Three-Dimensional Morphological and Mineralogical Characterization of Testate Amebae

  • Eric Armynot du Châtelet (a1), Catherine Noiriel (a2) and Maxence Delaine (a1)


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