Spontaneous aggregations of flagellates are formed under the cover-glass because the organisms are attracted to and remain in regions where the concentration of dissolved oxygen is less than the saturation concentration under atmospheric partial pressure. These regions of lessened oxygen content arise towards the center of the liquid beneath the cover-glass, owing to the oxygen consumed by the flagellates in respiration not being replaced here by the solution of atmospheric oxygen, as it is along the edges of the liquid. The flagellates, however, are insensitive to the attraction of regions of lessened oxygen concentration when the oxygen concentration throughout the liquid is above a certain value. Therefore, for the aggregations to form, either the initial concentration of dissolved oxygen must be below this limiting value, or an interval of time must first elapse after the making of the preparation until the respiration of the organisms has reduced the oxygen concentration throughout the liquid down to this limiting value. The aggregations will then form because the flagellates have become positively chemotropic to the lower concentration of oxygen at the center of the liquid.

Once established, such an aggregation of flagellates does not remain long in the same form. An area free from flagellates appears at the center of the aggregation so that the organisms lie in a circular band surrounding the clear area. The latter increases in size and its bordering band of flagellates in diameter, the band gradually becoming less circular and more square in shape, if the cover-glass is a square one. The clear central area is a region where the oxygen consumption of the flagellates has reduced the oxygen content to such a low value that the organisms are forced to leave the region. They collect in a band where the concentration of dissolved oxygen is an optimum for them. It is the equilibrium position between the oxygen consumed at the center and that diffusing in from the edges of the liquid. As the consumption at the center is more rapid than the replacement from the edge, the flagellate band moves outwards until it becomes stationary at a position where the rates of consumption and replacement of oxygen are equal.

Although the flagellates collect in this manner in regions of optimum oxygen concentration, yet greater concentrations of dissolved oxygen have no injurious effect on them. Concentrations of dissolved oxygen lower than the optimum have the effect of inhibiting the movement of the flagellates. They recover their activity, however, immediately they are given access to dissolved oxygen again.

Work done in the past on chemotropism of flagellates will have to be revised in the light of the above facts, since the oxygen content of solutions used has never been taken into account.

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