During the growth cycle of Tetrahymena pyriformis the mitochondria undergo changes in position, number, and structure. Ciliates in the logarithmic growth phase possess elongated mitochondria which are aligned along the plasma membrane and are closely associated with the kinetosomes and kinetodesmata. Mitochondria appear to divide across the long axis at this time, resulting in two or more products. Throughout this phase of growth mitochondrial divisions keep pace with cytokinesis so that the population of mitochondria remains at essentially the minimal level. As the ciliates enter the stationary growth phase the mitochondria increase in number, become oval to spherical in shape, and some migrate into the cytoplasm. Intramitochondrial masses of various configurations appear at this time. Some of the mitochondria lying in the cytoplasm become incorporated into vacuoles. Within these vacuoles either a single mitochondrion appears or several mitochondria may be seen along with other cytoplasmic structures. Later in the stationary growth phase the contained mitochondria are dense and the tubules are more compact than normal. Various stages in disorganization of the mitochondria are observed in a single large vacuole. Cytochemical tests reveal the presence of acid phosphatase, suggesting that hydrolysis of the vacuolar contents occurs. Lipid droplets increase in number during the middle and late stationary phase of growth. These events are interpreted as being associated with the normal process of aging in T. pyriformis.

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