Protists appeared relatively early in evolution, about 1.8 billion years ago, soon after the first prokaryotic organisms. During this time period, most species developed a variety of behavioral, morphological, and physiological strategies intended to improve the ability to capture prey or to avoid predation. In this scenario, a key role was played by specialized ejectable membrane-bound organelles called extrusomes, which are capable of discharging their content to the outside of the cell in response to various stimuli. The aim of this chapter is to describe the two main strategies adopted in ciliate predator-prey interactions: (a) the first is mediated by mechanical mechanisms and involves, for example, extrusomes called trichocysts and (b) the second is mediated by toxic secondary metabolites and involves different kinds of chemical extrusomes.
Part of the book: Extremophilic Microbes and Metabolites