In the marine ciliate Euplotes raikovi, pheromone released by a complementary mating type (nonself pheromone) induces typical sexual behaviour, whereas self pheromone released by the same mating type generally has no effect. Nonself pheromone evokes a reduction of the mean walking speed by 66 %, a threefold increase in the frequency and duration of long-lasting rest phases and a doubling in the number of side-stepping reactions. Consequently, translocation is strongly reduced and the cells remain in a small area. This could increase the probability of finding a sexual partner for pair formation (conjugation). The usual pattern of rhythmic, spontaneous depolarizations controlling the walking rhythm is absent in nonself-pheromone-stimulated cells. The remaining depolarizations arise from a 4 mV hyperpolarized membrane potential and do not reach the usual amplitudes of 15–20 mV but only of 6–10 mV. In addition, the amplitudes of K+ currents are increased at depolarizations of more than 20 mV by at least 30 %. Hyperpolarization- and depolarization-activated Na+ current amplitudes are increased, whereas the Ca2+ current amplitude remains nearly unaffected.
- © 1999 by Company of Biologists