Pattern formation

The pattern formation lab deals with spontaneous pattern formation in standing cultures of Tetrahymena. The honeycomb patterns formed in standing cultures of Tetrahymena have been linked to convection, chemotaxis, and cell-cell interaction, making this module not only useful as an independent biology lab but also potentially interesting as a cross platform vehicle for linking biology, math, and physics. Since various conditions affect spontaneous pattern formation and reaggregation, including media, cell density and environmental conditions, the lab lends itself to independent student inquiry and experimental design.


This very short clip shows a pattern forming in real time.

Module Protocols

High School

Relevant Concepts

Science as a Process; Cell – Cell Interaction; Cell Response to Environmental Stimuli

Next Generation Science Standards Relationships

High School: HS-LS1-2 | HS-LS1-3 | HS-LS2-8

NYS Science Curriculum Guideline Relationships

Key Ideas 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 4.1 | 4.6 | 4.7