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Paramecium Caudatum General Structure, 400X w.m.
Paramecium caudatum is a species of unicellular organisms belonging to the genus Paramecium of the phylum Ciliophora. They can reach 0.25mm in length and are covered with minute hair-like organelles calledcilia. The cilia are used in locomotion and feeding. Paramecium caudatum is 120-330 micrometres long (usually 200-300 micrometres). The cell body is roughly cigar-shaped, rounded at the front, tapering at the posterior to a blunt point. The pellicle is uniformly covered with cilia, and has a long oral groove, leading to deeply embedded oral cavity, lined with cilia. P. caudatum has two star-shaped contractile vacuoles, and a cellular envelope (cortex) densely studded with spindle-shaped extrusomes called trichocysts. The species is very common, and widespread in marine, brackish and freshwater environments. Paramecium have two nuclei (a large macronucleus and a single compact micronucleus). They cannot survive without the macronucleus and cannot reproduce without the micro-nucleus. Like all ciliates, Paramecia reproduce asexually, by binary fission. During reproduction, the macronucleus splits by a type of amitosis, and the micronuclei undergo mitosis. The cell then divides transversally, and each new cell obtains a copy of the micronucleus and the macronucleus.