The Hungry Amoeba

by Jennifer Frazer on August 2, 2009

Oh, those wily amoebae. I think we’ve all had days like this at the office. Some sensitive viewers may find this disturbing, although no more disturbing, I suppose, than watching a gazelle get chased down by a cheetah on the Discovery Channel.

The poor little guy who gets it in this video is a little ciliate flagellate(single-celled organism with a long propeller-like propulsive tail) named Chilomonas, according to Psi Wavefunction (thanks Psi!). This little drama is one example of the billions of such daily struggles that go on every day in the soil and water all around you. With our daily lives so full, it’s easy to forget.

This process of eating by engulfment is called “endocytosis” by biologists, which is a fancy term for “into the cell”. Specifically, this is “phagocytosis”, or cellular eating. Many cells can also perform pinocytosis, or cellular drinking, where cells can ingest small bubbles of water. Plasmodial slime molds (oft mentioned and beloved at this blog) start out as single amoebae like this, doing pretty much this the exact same thing in the soil. When they fuse to form a plasmodium, they’re feeding the same way — just at 5 Jillion X.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Psi Wavefunction August 2, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Hmmm… Chilomonas is a Cryptomonad (flagellate), not a ciliate… the thing is pretty small, although conversely Amoeba or Chaos (can’t tell what this is) can get quite sizeable. In one of the first frames you can sorta see something flagellum-like (need higher res to make sure though), and the shape may be cryptomonad-like, so this may well be Chilomonas, which is not a ciliate.

It doesn’t help that one of the prominent species is called Chilomonas paramecium though… they do it a lot, using other genus names for species names… there’s a cryptomonad called Somethingrather akashiwo (Akashiwo is a major genus of dinoflagellates), an ochrophyte called Something euglena (nothing to do with Euglenids!), etc. What a mess! This is why I rarely go beyond genus…

Lastly, Chilomonas is synonymous with Cryptomonas. Enjoy =P

This just brought back painful memories of studying for the protistology lab final… we actually had to recognise a couple genera of Cryptomonads and Haptophytes (reads: tiny flagellate suckers) among about 80 other organisms, and trust me, they (‘crhaptos’) all look like whirling dots on the slide…

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Previous post:

Next post: