Contractile vacuoles

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A contractile vacuole is a liquid-filled, membrane bound organelle (sometimes multiple) present in eukaryotic ciliates, notably Paramecium cells.

It serves as an osmoregulator in the cytoplasm of nearly all ciliates. It pulsates with regular frequency under natural conditions: grows (diastole) to a certain size and then contracts (systole), emptying its contents, which may include dissolved “waste materials”, to the exterior via one or more of the contractile vacuole pores in the cell surface membrane[1].

This serves as an osmoregulation mechanism, allowing cells to efficiently control their internal osmolality and often to avoid cell lysis.

References

  1. Lynn H. (2008) The ciliated Protozoa Characterization, classification and Guide to the literature, New York: Springer.
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