Improved methods for bulk cultivation and fixation of Loxodes ciliates for fluorescence microscopy
Loxodes is one of the best ecologically characterized ciliate genera with numerous intriguing physiological abilities, including gravity-sensing organelles and nitrate respiration. However, these cells have been considered challenging to cultivate in bulk, and are poorly preserved by conventional fixatives used for fluorescence microscopy. Here we describe methods to grow and harvest Loxodes cells in bulk with liquid soil extract medium, as well as a new fixative called ZFAE (zinc sulfate, formaldehyde, acetic acid, ethanol) that can fix Loxodes cells more effectively than buffered formaldehyde or methanol. We show that ZFAE is compatible with immunofluorescence and the nuclear stain DAPI. Loxodes is thus now amenable to long-term maintenance, large-scale growth, and modern cell biology investigations of monoclonal strains in laboratory conditions.