Guidelines for the writing of essays

One of our expectations in this course is that students leave it with a thorough knowledge of either one particular protist group or a topic of particular relevance in protistology. Therefore you are asked to write one essay in each term of the course. Here are some guidelines for this term’s essay.

1. Choose a topic for your essay, either included or not in the list of suggestions given below (but please check with me before starting on a topic that is not on the list). On Thursday, September 22nd, you’ll be asked for the topic for your essay. Every student should write about a different topic. If necessary (e.g. if too many students have chosen the same question), I’ll ask you to either modify or change the topic for your essay. Please avoid medical topics, and try to focus on a well-defined question or group.

2. The next step is to develop a formal prospectus, a brief synopsis of your paper including
a. The title of the essay, which should give a bit more information than the general topic
b. An abstract, i.e. a brief synopsis of your paper indicating the material to be covered. The main ideas of your essay and the manner in which the argument will be developed should be presented. This abstract should be no longer than half a page, double spaced.
c. An annotated bibliography, a list of five or six of the best sources you have found, briefly indicating (a few sentences at the most) what information is contained and how it could be useful for your paper.

The prospectus will be worth ca. 10%-20% of the final grade for the Essay, and is due on Thursday, October 28th.

3. The essay itself is due Tuesday, November 29th. The text of the body of the essay should be no more than 10 pages double spaced (font size 12), not including the reference list. Please type. In addition, you should provide figures, tables and appendices as needed. Plagiarized essays will be given a grade of 0 (this has been a big problem in the past and we WILL pay particular attention to this issue!). Please use author and date citations within the text (see the handout on documentation for the proper format).

SOME POSSIBLE ESSAY TOPICS (list non-inclusive)

1. Evolutionary Topics

-The history of plastids
-Many roads towards multicellularity
-The history of plastids in alveolates
-The fate of mitochondria in amitochondriate eukaryotes
-Protists and the species concept
-Evolutionary significance of nucleomorphs
-The history of sex in protists
-Evolutionary history of meiosis
-Secondary endosymbiosis and protist diversity
-The palaeontological view on the origin of eukaryotes
-The origin of (animals, fungi, higher plants)

2. Cell- and Molecular Biology

-How do (diatoms, gregarines, amoebae, foraminiferans) move?
-Morphogenesis of the diatom’s cell wall
-Morphogenesis of coccoliths
-Morphogenesis and evolution of the foraminiferan shell
-Bioluminescence in dinoflagellates
-The eyes of dinoflagellates
-Food vacuole processing in Paramecium (or any other ciliate)
-Ultrastructure of the apical complex
-Ultrastructure of the (ciliate, apicomplexan) cortex
-How do (acantharians, polycystines, centrohelid heliozoans, foraminiferans) eat?
-Cell anatomy of phaeodarians
-Food absorption in apicomplexans
-What is a centrosome?
-The nucleus of dinoflagellates
-Losing immortality: ageing in ciliates
-Mitosis in trichomonads
-Control of (aggregation, differentiation) in slime moulds
-Macronuclear development in (karyorelictid, hypotrich, oligohymenophoran) ciliates
-Anatomy of the kinetosome
-DNA editing in ciliates
-Types of mitosis in protists
-Protein transport into plastids (plants vs. chromists)
-Nuclear dualism in foraminiferans
-Dinoflagellate toxins
-Feeding mechanisms of karyorelictid ciliates
-The glycocalyx of (lobose) amoebae
-Endosymbiotic gene transfer and protein targeting
-Cellular slime moulds as models for developmental biology

3. Parasitology

-How does (Plasmodium, Trypanosoma, Leishmania, Babesia, Toxoplasma, Eimeria) interact with the host to evade host defenses?
-How does (Plasmodium, Eimeria, Babesia) enter its host cell?
-Molecular biology of (Phytophthora, Plasmopara) infections in plants
-Plasmodiophora infections in plants
-Parasitism in (dinoflagellates, ciliates)

4. Ecology and Behaviour

-The microbial loop in planktonic foodchains
-Plankton behaviour: circadian cycles
-Can plankton blooms influence the planet’s weather?
-(Phototaxis, chemotaxis) in protists
-Photosynthetic protists symbiotic in invertebrates
-Phagotrophy in euglenoids
-Ciguatera fish poisoning
-Ichtyotoxicity caused by blooms of Heterosigma akashiwo
-The role of dinoflagellates in coral reef formation
-Protists and the search for oil
-Symbioses and green algae
-Lobose testate amoebae as pollution markers

-You may choose to write an essay on a topic that is not included in the list above, but please see me before you start. Please avoid medical topics.

-This assignment will require a substantial amount of library work. I strongly recommend that you take one of the scheduled library tours and attend workshops on the use of reference material and the CD ROM-based reference system. It is a good idea to initially look for a fairly recent review article on your topic. As you find information, use the bibliographies of articles as sources for further information. When you have the names of individual researchers, you can use the Science Citation Index to find articles in which other people have referred to their work.

Some time spend becoming familiar with Google Scholar will be repaid many times over. There is an amazing amount of material on line now.