It’s common knowledge that cigarettes have a toxic effect on the body. In fact, more than five million people die annually from tobacco usage. However, have you ever wondered how tobacco would affect other organisms? This was the topic of a research project that I partook in approximately one year ago. I worked with a colleague of mine named Thomas Heath as we attempted to induce mutations in a culture of the ciliate protozoa known as Paramecia tetraurelia. After adding a broth created from soaking tobacco from cigarettes to the media containing the Paramecia, we observed some fairly interesting mutations within the cultures. These mutations were passed onto their offspring and include, but are not limited to, erratic movement, misshapen and undersized individuals, and improper splitting during reproduction. This is not surprising as cigarettes are capable of causing mutations within our own genome that eventually lead to a variety of disorders including certain types of cancer.
Improper splitting (bottom, approximate center): They stayed like this and moved attached to one another, the one in the back being dragged along.
Paper I wrote on the study: Paramecia