Microworld

world of amoeboid organisms

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Introduction

This website includes those groups of protists traditionally lumped under the name “amoebae”. Protists are defined only as a confederation of eukaryote organisms lacking the tissue level of organization seen in plants, animals, and fungi. The term “amoebae” is used for those protists that move and feed by means of cytoplasmic streaming. This unique method of locomotion is called amoeboid movement. Amoebae are also characterized by an irregular shape and the lack of a constant body form. The name “amoeba” is derived from an ancient Greek word, that means “changing”. Cilia, if present,  are usually restricted to developmental stages. A characteristic feature of amoeboid locomotion is the formation of pseudopodia, temporary cytoplasmic extensions.
Amoeboid protists comprise a large and very diverse group with over 15,000 described species. Most are free-living, ubiquitous organisms that are widespread in nature and can be found in nearly any moist or aquatic habitat, aerobic or anaerobic. Some amoeboids are endosymbiotic, including pathogenic forms and parasites.
Many protists move and feed by amoeboid behavior, but many of them aren’t closely related at all. Therefore, the term “amoebae” has no taxonomic value and is comparable with classifying organisms in e.g. “flying animals” or “four-legged animals”.

Diversity
Traditionally amoebae were divided into shelled (Testacea) and naked amoeboids (Gymnamoebae). These names were recognized taxonomic units to describe these Protozoa, but the use of new techniques like the electron microscope has dramatically changed our scope. An example is the common amoeba Korotnevella (Fig. 1).

Korotnevella
Fig. 1: Korotnevella – EM-Photo Eckhard Voelcker

In light microscopy it appears to be naked, without any visible covering (Fig. 1A), but electron microscopy reveals that the cell is densely covered with self secreted micro-scales (Fig. 1B).

Some amoeboids like Cochliopodium species have larger micro-scales that can easily be seen with a light microscope. A coating of micro-scales is flexible and protects the -slow moving- cell against predators. It’s called a tectum.

Other amoeboids have developed a thickened cell membrane called pellicle or theca. There are also amoebae that build a kind of shell like snailes do. Such shells or tests are made from collected materials from the environment or from self secreted scales or platelets or a combination of both.

The largest number of amoeboid organisms can be found with the phyla Amoebozoa and Cercozoa. They have by far the greatest biomass of any protist taxon in soil and are also abundant in every marine habitat. They prey on bacteria and other protists.

Polychaos dubium

Polychaos dubium, a medium sized naked amoeba, changing its irregular shape within a minute.
Recent posts

Zivkovicia compressoidea

Z. compressoidea, a-b after Chardez, 1958; c after Jung, 1942 Zivkovicia compressoidea  (Jung, 1942) new.comb. Basionym: Pontigulasia compressoidea Jung, 1942 Diagnosis: Shell ovoid and compressed,

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Zivkovicia flexa

Z. flexa, from Cash and Hopkinson, 1909 Zivkovicia flexa  (Cash and Hopkinson, 1909) Ogden, 1983 Basionym: Pontigulasia compressa var. flexa  Cash and Hopkinson, 1909 Diagnosis:

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Lagenodifflugia epiouxi

L. epiouxi, after Chardez, 1984 3 Lagenodifflugia epiouxi (Chardez, 1983) new comb. Basionym: Pontigulasia epiouxi Chardez, 1983 Diagnosis: Shell elongate, circular in cross-section or very

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Centropyxis lapponica

Centropyxis lapponica, after Grospietsch, 1954 Centropyxis lapponica  Grospietsch, 1954 Diagnosis: Shell nearly circular in circumference, without spines. Aperture clear square with rounded corners. Shell viewed

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Chaos spec. 6

Chaos spec., Crailoo, 2021 Chaos spec. This specimen was found in a samples from Crailoo, Netherlands. It was remarkable because of the absence of crystals.

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Bullinularia maxima

Bullinularia maxima – from Bobrov and Mazei, 2020 Bullinularia maxima Bobrov et Mazei, 2020 Diagnosis: Shell brown, opaque, elliptical in ventral view; ventral surface is

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Bullinularia macroporum

Bullinularia macroporum – from Bobrov and Mazei, 2020 Bullinularia macroporum Bobrov et Mazei, 2020 Diagnosis: Shell yellow-brownish, transparent, circular in ventral view; ventral surface is

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Nebela golemanskyi

N. golemanskyi, after Todorov, 2010 Nebela golemanskyi Todorov, 2010 Diagnosis: Shell large, colourless and pyriform, with a distinct short neck about one fourth of the

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Nebela nebeloides

N. nebeloides, after Gauthier-Lièvre and Thomas, 1958 Nebela nebeloides (Gauthier-Lièvre and Thomas, 1958) Todorov et al., 2010 Basionym: Difflugia nebeloides Gauthier-Lièvre and Thomas, 1958 Diagnosis:

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