The Percolozoa are a group of colourless protozoa, including many that can transform between amoeboid, flagellate, and encysted stages.
Terminology and classification
These are collectively referred to as schizopyrenids, amoeboflagellates, or vahlkampfids. They also include the acrasids, a group of social amoebae that aggregate to form sporangia. The entire group is usually called the Heterolobosea, but this may be restricted to members with amoeboid stages.
One Heterolobosea classification system is as follows:
Pleurostomum flabellatum has recently been added to Heterolobosea.
Most Percolozoa are found as bacterivores in soil, freshwater, and on feces. There are a few marine and parasitic forms, including the species Naegleria fowleri, which can become pathogenic in humans and is often fatal. The group is closely related to the Euglenozoa, and share with them the unusual though not unique characteristic of having mitochondria with discoid cristae. The presence of a ventral feeding groove in the flagellate stage, as well as other features, suggests that they are part of the excavate group.
The amoeboid stage is roughly cylindrical, typically around 20-40 μm in length. They are traditionally considered lobose amoebae, but are not related to the others and unlike them do not form true lobose pseudopods. Instead, they advance by eruptive waves, where hemispherical bulges appear from the front margin of the cell, which is clear. The flagellate stage is slightly smaller, with two or four anterior flagella anterior to the feeding groove.
Usually the amoeboid form is taken when food is plentiful, and the flagellate form is used for rapid locomotion. However, not all members are able to assume both forms. The genera Percolomonas, Lyromonas, and Psalteriomonas are known only as flagellates, while Vahlkampfia, Pseudovahlkampfia, and the acrasids do not have flagellate stages. As mentioned above, under unfavourable conditions, the acrasids aggregate to form sporangia. These are superficially similar to the sporangia of the dictyostelids, but the amoebae only aggregate as individuals or in small groups and do not die to form the stalk.
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