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.

Pattern formation


(licensed under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0)


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

Glossary of Terms

Relevant Concepts

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

Next Generation Science Standards Relationships

High School:  |

NYS Science Curriculum Guideline Relationships

Key Ideas | | | | |


Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms.
Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that feedback mechanisms maintain homeostasis.
Evaluate the evidence for the role of group behavior on individual and species’ chances to survive and reproduce.
The central purpose of scientific inquiry is to develop explanations of natural phenomena in a continuing and creative process.
Beyond the use of reasoning and consensus, scientific inquiry involves the testing of proposed explanations.
The observations made while testing proposed explanations, when analyzed using conventional and invented methods, provide new insights into natural phenomena.
Living things are both similar to and different from each other and from nonliving things.
Plants and animals depend on each other and their physical environment.
Human decisions and activities have had a profound impact on the physical and living environment.