Amoebas are a type of microscopic, single-celled organism that belongs to the biological group known as protozoa. Amoebas are characterized by their ability to change shape and move by extending and retracting finger-like projections called pseudopodia. These pseudopodia allow amoebas to engulf and capture food particles, as well as to move around in their aquatic environments.
Amoebas are found in various aquatic habitats, including freshwater, saltwater, and moist terrestrial environments. They are part of the broader group of organisms called protozoans, which are eukaryotic microorganisms with complex cell structures.
The life cycle of an amoeba typically involves a single-celled, free-living form that can reproduce through a process called binary fission, where one cell divides into two identical daughter cells. Some amoebas can also form protective cysts in response to unfavorable conditions, helping them survive harsh environments until conditions improve.
Amoebas primarily feed on smaller organisms such as bacteria, algae, and other microscopic particles. They capture their food by extending their pseudopodia around the prey and then engulfing it into a vesicle within the cell. The process by which they capture and ingest their food is known as phagocytosis.
One well-known amoeba is the genus Amoeba itself, which has several species. Another notable example is the amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, which is often studied as a model organism in biological research due to its ability to exhibit cooperative behavior under certain conditions.