Hemmersbach, R., Bromeis, B., Bräucker, R., Krause, M., Freiberger, N., Stieber, C. and Wilczek, M. (2001): Paramecium - a modell system for studying cellular graviperception. Adv. Space Res. 27 (5), 893-898

Experiments under varied gravitational accelerations as well as in density-adjusted media showed that sensation of gravity in protists may be linked to the known principles of mechanosensation. Paramecium, a ciliate with clear graviresponses (gravitaxis and gravikinesis) is an ideal model system to prove this hypothesis since the ciliary activity and thus the swimming behaviour is controlled by the membrane potential. It has also been assumed that the cytoplasmic mass causes a distinct stimulation of the bipolarly distributed mechano-sensitive K+- and Ca2+ ion channels in the plasma membrane in dependence of the spatial orientation of the cell. In order to prove this hypothesis, different channel blockers are currently under investigation. Gadolinium did not inhibit gravitaxis in Paramecium, showing that it does not specifically block gravireceptors. Further studies concentrated on the question of whether second messengers are involved in the gravity signal transduction chain. Exposure to 5 g for up to 10 min led to a significant increase in cAMP.