Bacteria form the base of the protozoan food chain and a hay infusion is primarily a bacteria culture. Most other protozoans
(except for autotrophs such as euglena) feed on bacteria or on organsims that feed on bacteria. The grass and other orgnaic matter
in a hay infusion is there mainly to feed the bacteria.
Though some bacteria are harmful and cause a variety of disease most are harmless and some are even beneficial. Bacteria are actually
more different from other protists than plants are from animals. Bacteria have a greatly simplified structure, they have no nucleus
and lack distinct organelles. Their DNA is not organized into chromosomes but instead is spread throughout their body in
multiple copies of each gene. In fact, if you were to cut a rod shaped bacterium into five pieces (which would be quite an
accomplishment!) it is possible that all five pieces would survive and regenerate into a whole bacterium!
Despite their simple structure bacteria can do some amazing things. For example, when their is an abundant food source bacteria of
the same species can somehow communicate and their behavior changes. They put out streamers and join together to form a "bio film",
one example of which is the plaque that forms on your teeth. A single bacterium by itself can't do much damage, but when baceria form
plaque the concentrated activity produces concentrated acid which forms a small pit, giving the bacteria a protected place to hang
out, this gets deeper, thus forming a cavity. Brushing your teeth prevents cavities not just because it removes the food particles
that bacteria feed on, but also because it disrupts the biofilm, rendering the remaining bacteria harmless.
The videos (in WMV format):
Here is a cluster of bateria, the shape of which suggests that they are feeding on the remains of something, it isn't clear what.
Bacteria cluster (100X) closeup (400X)
another view (400X)
These videos were from my own hay infusion based on samples collected in Northern California, 95841.
I hope you enjoy my microscopic videos of