Ciliate taxonomy and diversity

We are focusing our research on the systematics and diversity of free-living ciliates, particularly marine and brackish forms in costal waters.

Ciliates are found almost everywhere that there is sufficient water for them to move and feed, and are the primary consumers of bacteria in many habitats. Some are parasitic living either inside, or attached to the outside, of their animal host.

Our current research includes:

Surveys of marine benthic ciliates in coastal regions of the UK and of southern and NE China

A major outcome of this work will be a web-based guide to the identification of marine benthic ciliates.

The diversity and systematics of planktonic ciliates in Chinese coastal water

This includes an investigation of the potential of DNA-barcoding for species identification among key groups of spirotricheans.

Evolutionary relationships among selected ciliate groups 

These are being investigated using a combination of morphological, morphogenetic and molecular methods.

In addition, we are updating our web-based Guide to the Identification of Ciliates in Activated Sludge Wastewater Treatment Processes.

Ciliate researcher

Alan Warren
Dr Alan Warren

Researching the systematics of ciliated protozoa (ciliates) biodiversity of marine ciliates and the use of ciliates as bioindicators of environmental quality.


The main collaborating groups in this research are 

  • Ocean University of China, Qingdao
  • South China Normal University, Guangzhou