All free-living life forms are made of cells. The majority of life forms on the planet are microscopic and unicellular – meaning that the entire organism consists of only one cell, and is too small to be seen with the naked eye. We, in juxtaposition, are made up of many, many cells, as are the plants and animals that we can see around us every day. Unicellular organisms inhabit the soil, air and water all around us, some even reside within our own bodies. These organisms are intrinsically fascinating and often visually stunning; they are architects, builders, travelers, parasites, hunters, scavengers and prey; they have sex lives and mating rituals; they build communities and they go it alone. They are as complex in terms of behavior and lifestyle as any plant or animal, yet they do all of this within the confines of only one cell. Pondlife is an effort to document these organisms as the complex living creatures that they are, and make them accessible to as many people as possible.
Check out more of Warring’s work:
Rock slime from the Water of Leith, seen here under the microscope. All the brown sludge is composed of many species of diatoms. You can see some of them here. They have golden brown plastids that they use to harvest energy from sunlight. It's these plastids that gives the slime its color. Some of them move about. I always think they look like little boats.
Paramecium bursaria. I post about this organism all the time, but I love it so much I just can't help it. It's a ciliate. You can tell because of all those fine hair-like structures poking out from its sides. Ciliates are unicellular creatures that usually need to eat to survive, like us. But paramecium bursaria has formed an alliance with a green algae. All those green spots inside it are algae cells. The algae don't need to eat. They can live off sunlight and they can share this sun food with the ciliate. These two species, the ciliate and the green algae, are cooperating in order to live. They're a team. Teams have been fantastically important in the evolution of all life, and continue to be important for us living things today. Each of us is a team of many different organisms all cooperating and living together. I think this is pretty cool.
Follow this up with Animated Life: Seeing the Invisible, See Microbes with this DIY Phone Microscope, and how do you find water bears in the wild?
The frenetic activity inside a single green algal cell. Cellular contents is always on the move and there's always a lot to do: vesicles to move around, genes to express, proteins to make, carbohydrates to store, the list goes on. This one is magnified 1000 times, so that we can make out all the details.