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Title: Volvox  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Volvox globator, Symmetry in biology, Vermes in the 10th edition of Systema Naturae, Volvox carteri, Chlorophyceae
Collection: Chlorophyceae Genera, Freshwater Algae, Green Algae
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Volvox is a genus of chlorophytes, a type of green algae. It forms spherical colonies of up to 50,000 cells. They live in a variety of freshwater habitats, and were first reported by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek in 1700. Volvox developed its colonial lifestyle .[1]


  • Description 1
    • Reproduction 1.1
  • Habitats 2
  • History 3
  • Evolution 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Volvox colony: 1) Chlamydomonas-like cell, 2) Daughter colony, 3) Cytoplasmic bridges, 4) Intercellular gel, 5) Reproductive cell, 6) Somatic cell.

Volvox is the most developed in a series of genera that form spherical colonies.[2] Each mature Volvox colony is composed of numerous flagellate cells similar to Chlamydomonas, up to 50,000 in total,[1] and embedded in the surface of a hollow sphere or coenobium containing an extracellular matrix[1] made of a gelatinous glycoprotein.[3] Except during the formation of daughter colonies, vegetative cells comprise a single layer with the flagella facing outward. The cells swim in a coordinated fashion, with distinct anterior and posterior poles. The cells have eyespots, more developed near the anterior, which enable the colony to swim towards light. The individual algae in some species are interconnected by thin strands of cytoplasm, called protoplasmates.[4] They are known to demonstrate some individuality and working for the good of their colony, acting like one multicellular organism.


An asexual colony includes both somatic (vegetative) cells, which do not reproduce, and gonidia near the posterior, which produce new colonies through repeated division. The daughter colonies are initially held within the parent coenobium and have their flagella directed inwards. Later, the parent disintegrates and the daughters invert. In sexual reproduction two types of gametes are produced. Volvox species can be monoecious or dioecious. Male colonies release numerous microgametes, or sperm, while in female colonies single cells enlarge to become oogametes, or eggs.[2][5]


Volvox is a genus of freshwater algae found in ponds and ditches, even in shallow puddles.[5] According to Charles Joseph Chamberlain,[6]

"The most favorable place to look for it is in the deeper ponds, lagoons, and ditches which receive an abundance of rain water. It has been said that where you find Lemna, you are likely to find Volvox; and it is true that such water is favorable, but the shading is unfavorable. Look where you find Sphagnum, Vaucheria, Alisma, Equisetum fluviatile, Utricularia, Typha, and Chara. Dr. Nieuwland reports that Pandorina, Eudorina and Gonium are commonly found in summer as constituents of the green scum on wallows in fields where pigs are kept. The flagellate, Euglena, is often associated with these forms."


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek first reported observations of Volvox in 1700.[7]


Ancestors of Volvox transitioned from single cells to form multicellular colonies at least , during the Triassic period.[1][8] An estimate using DNA sequences from about 45 different species of Volvox and related species suggests that the transition from single cells to undifferentiated multicellular colonies took about 35 million years.[1][8]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Single-celled algae took the leap to multicellularity 200 million years ago".  
  2. ^ a b David L. Kirk (1998). Volvox: A Search for the Molecular and Genetic Origins of Multicellularity and Cellular Differentiation.  
  3. ^ A. Hallmann (2003). "Extracellular matrix and sex-inducing pheromone in Volvox".  
  4. ^ N. Ikushima & S. Maruyama (1968). "The protoplasmic connection in Volvox".  
  5. ^ a b J. H. Powers (1908). "Further studies in Volvox, with descriptions of three new species".  
  6. ^  
  7. ^  
  8. ^ a b Herron MD, Hackett JD, Aylward FO, Michod RE (2009). "Triassic origin and early radiation of multicellular volvocine algae".  

External links

  • Guiry, M.D.; Guiry, G.M. (2008). "Volvox'"'.  
  • description with picturesVolvox from a Hosei University website
  • YouTube videos of Volvox:
    • Life cycle and inversion
    • VolvoxWaltzing
    • VolvoxSpinning
  • , one of the 7 Wonders of the Micro WorldVolvox by Wim van Egmond, from Microscopy-UK
  • Volvox carteri at, with modes of reproduction, brief facts
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