A trichocyst is a structure in the cortex of certain ciliate and flagellate protozoans consisting of a cavity and long, thin threads that can be ejected in response to certain stimuli. Trichocysts may be widely distributed over an organism or restricted to certain areas.They are characteristics of the Phylum Ciliophora.

micro-stubn ciliates and dinoflagellates, the trichocyst is an organelle that releases long filamentous proteins that capture predators in "nets" to slow them down when the cell is disturbed. The protein is nontoxic and shaped like a long, striated, fibrous shaft.

It may also be used to anchor the protozoa while it is feeding or capture food to bring into itself. In Paramecium, it is almost certain that the anchorage function is the correct one.

The trichocyst is shaped like a hollow cavity filled with long, thin threads of protein. Trichocysts may be found in only one area, like around the tentacles or mouth, or it may be found all over the organism. Different types of trichocysts seem to have different functions. The Paramecium filamentous trichocysts have filaments that are similar to harpoons: a long filament with a cross-striated shaft and a tip. Trichocysts for toxicysts tend to be around the mouth, where the toxin can be shot out to paralyze or kill other microorganisms.

Overall, information about the trichocyst is incomplete, but scientists are working hard to uncover its mysteries.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Trichocyst — Trich o*cyst, n. [Gr. tri x, tricho s, a hair + ? bag.] (Zo[ o]l.) A lasso cell. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • trichocyst — [trik′ə sist΄] n. [ TRICHO + CYST] any of the many tiny, rodlike, stinging and attachment organelles embedded in the ectoplasm of many ciliated protozoans trichocystic [trik′ōsis′tik] adj …   English World dictionary

  • trichocyst — Small membrane bounded vesicle lying below the pellicle of many ciliates. Fusion of the trichocyst with the plasma membrane occurs at a predictable site which can therefore be examined for membrane specialization …   Dictionary of molecular biology

  • trichocyst — noun Date: 1859 any of the minute lassoing or stinging organelles of protozoans and especially of many ciliates …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • trichocyst — trichocystic, adj. /trik euh sist /, n. Zool. an organ of offense and defense embedded in the outer cytoplasm of certain protozoans, consisting of a small elongated sac containing a fine, hairlike filament capable of being ejected. [1850 55;… …   Universalium

  • trichocyst — noun A threadlike organ in certain protozoans that can be discharged suddenly in order to grasp or sting …   Wiktionary

  • trichocyst — One of a number of structures, in the form of minute elongated cysts, arranged radially around the periphery of a protozoan cell and containing fluid which when discharged serves for offense or defense; found in ciliates, such as Paramecium… …   Medical dictionary

  • trichocyst — n. organ in the protoplasm of some single celled organisms which can eject a filament for purposes of offense or defense …   English contemporary dictionary

  • trichocyst — n. (Zool.) Lasso cell …   New dictionary of synonyms

  • trichocyst — trich·o·cyst …   English syllables

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