Biological, Economical, And Ecological Importance of Amoeba

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Well! There’s a lot of importance about amoeba in our day to life. Here in this post, you’ll learn some of the most awesome importance of Amoeba.

Amoeba is really one of the simplest and primitive animalcules present on earth. It is the most popular free-living protozoan.

The most unique aspect of amoeba anatomy is the formation of temporary extensions of the cytoplasm known as pseudopodia or false feet that helps it in locomotion.

Their body is like a small spot of protoplasm resembling a tiny drop of jelly that has all the cell organelles to perform the movements and other mandatory activities.

There are several species of Amoeba, but the most commonly studied one is the large freshwater species Amoeba proteus which is an easy to find and useful experimental animal.

You can find Amoeba proteus on the bottom mud or on the underside of aquatic vegetation in freshwater ponds, ditches, lakes, springs, pools, and in slow-running streams as well.

Other Amoeba species can be found in hot springs, soil, mud, warm water coming from industrial plants, poorly maintained swimming pools, and at water heaters kept at temperatures below 117°F (47°C).

CONTENTS: Importance / Significance of Amoeba
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Biological Importance of Amoeba

1. Amoeba depicts body organization consisting of a protoplasmic mass or a single cell into a complete organism. Their cytoplasm and cellular contents are well-enclosed within a cell membrane. They have their genetic material in the nucleus with other cell organelles. This unicellular organism is so advanced that it executes all of the cellular functions including energy production and protein transport while taking care of respiration, movements, excretion, feeding, digestion, etc. all with a single cell.

2. The binary-fission of Amoeba is so straight forward and simple that it gives us a clear-cut understanding of the mitotic cell division happening in the animal kingdom. Binary fission is a process of asexual reproduction that occurs when the cell divides into two daughter cells. It is the most common mode of reproduction employed by Amoeba.

3. The responses of Amoeba represent the early beginning of sensitivity in animals. They have the simplest cell signaling patterns that helps detect the external and internal stimuli in the environment via. chemotaxis, phototaxis, thermotaxis, etc. These help in understanding the basics of cell signaling and stimuli patterns in the biological world.

4. Different organelles of Amoeba give the first indication of division of labour concerning the vital activities that defines a living organism. They have contractile vacuole, nucelus, cell membrane, proteins, endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria, food vacuole, etc. and each of this is confined to its type of work that defines each and every function of life.

5. There are a great number of chromosomes present in the nucleus of Amoeba. Amoeba chromosomes are extremely small, and rough estimates of chromosome numbers are difficult to obtain to date. However, as many as 500-1000 small chromosomes have been observed in the nucleus of Amoeba proteus. This greatly suggests the occurrence of a wide variety of isolated genes in the animal kingdom, which in the higher animals are located in chromosomes.

6. The anatomy of Amoeba gives a faint idea regarding the anatomical structures of higher animals. For example: the food cup is comparable to the buccal cavity, food vacuole to gut, pseudopodia to legs, contractile vacuole to urinary bladder or kidney, and so on.

7. The absence of mitochondria in anaerobic amoebae explains how these anaerobic amoebae have developed mitosomes which are related to mitochondria and are thought to be highly altered versions of the same. This is the case for Entamoeba histolytica and a free-living amoeba, Mastigamoeba balamuthi, and more. This shows how biological organisms have developed various alternatives within themselves to fit their environment.

8. The pseudopodial movement of the amoeba helps it to move, locomote, and feed on its food. Pseudopodia are those short-lived outward projections of the cytoplasm that help the amoeba to grip a surface and propel themselves forward. These have explained the working of the various cells of the biological body like that of macrophages, leucocytes, etc.

9. An amoeba grows by gaining energy through absorbing food or making its own food from sunlight. This growth in one of the most primitive organisms like the amoeba, shows the basics of cellular growth in living organisms in order to withstand small changes in the environment. Scientists refer to this phenomenon as robustness and it is one of the distinct features that separate living systems from non-living materials and artificial machines.

10. Amoeba has its build-in pumping system inside the cell, called “contractile vacuole”. Its function is to regulate the water content of the cell. Without the contractile vacuoles, the amoebae cells may burst during hypotonic or hypertonic situations. Undoubtedly, it is a very important organelle with an essential function to the amoeba. This shows one of the most primitive mechanisms of how every biological cell has some kind of a protective mechanism that prevents the cell from absorbing too much water and possibly rupturing.

11. Amoeba shows encystment as a protective covering to save themselves. The main functions of cysts are to protect against adverse changes in the environment such as nutrient deficiency, desiccation, adverse pH, and low levels of O2, they are sites for nuclear reorganization and cell division, and even they are the infectious stage between hosts. This cyst formation shows how in the biological world organisms developed a way of protecting their cells and carry on their life history.

12. Amoeba proteus has 290 billion base pairs of DNA in its nucleus. This makes it 100 times larger than the human genome which only consists of about 3 billion base pairs of DNA. Amoeba dubia has about 670 billion base pairs of DNA. In biology, this explains the extreme replication of the same set of genes forming polyploid organisms.

Economical Importance of Amoeba

1. Amoeba plays a key role in maintaining the fertility of the soil and they are also referred to as the friends of farmers. They add ammonium (NH4+) to the soil thus providing nitrogen to be utilized by the plants.

2. Amoeba by feeding on the excess of bacteria present in the soil and then by digesting and excreting the bacterial wastes maintains the proper flow of nutrients in the soil, thus promoting the various agricultural practices.

3. Certain amoeba species can stay in close association with certain strains of bacteria, just like the amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum that stays in association with Burkholderia bacteria. This helps in the rapid spread of Burkholderia along with the amoeba in the agricultural field. This bacteria has been developed as a biopesticide for protecting crops against fungal diseases and has the potential to be a bioremediation agent for breaking down recalcitrant herbicides and pesticides. Thus, helping in agriculture overall.

4. Amoeba like Dictyostelium discoideum, during the scarcity of food, congregate and merge into a many-celled slug where many other bacterias also get packed. This slug gets a good place and forms a ball of spores that gets blown off due to wind pressure and reaches some other location in the field. When the spores land somewhere new, the bacteria along with the amoeba gets released, creating a ready supply of food for amoeba there. Dictyostelium discoideum can engulf and keep the bacteria within the cell. And, as agriculture seems to need bacterial survival and it is possible as various bacteria can live and replicate inside D. discoideum, making farming a lot easier.

5. Most of the economic impact of amoeba is secondary, the most obvious being that a few species make humans ill. Many people at some point encounter amoebic dysentery caused by the amoeba Entamoeba histolytica. Rarer cases of amoebic illness are caused by the amoeba Naegleria fowleri, the organism responsible for amoebic meningitis.

6. Amoeba like Entamoeba histolytica is a genus consisting of Amoebozoa. They are found in the intestines of animals they infect as internal parasites or commensals of animals. They can also cause amoebiasis in humans.

7. They enhance the rates at which bacteria decompose dead organic matter. Amoebas also excrete nitrogen and phosphorus, in the form of ammonium and orthophosphate, as products of their metabolism. And so, the presence of amoebae in soils enhances plant growth.

8. Bacteria, viruses, and parasites can be dangerous to other living creatures in soil or water plants. Biocides and pesticides can help you get rid of these microorganisms but most biocides are chemicals, many of which are toxic. So, promoting the growth of various amoeba can help get rid of these microorganisms as amoeba can happily feed on them.

Ecological Importance of Amoeba

1. Amoebae are an important part of the soil ecosystem. They regulate the bacterial population by feeding on them. It is possible that more than 60% of the decrease in the bacterial population of the agriculture field is due to the presence of naked amoeba, which is amoeba without a shell. Thus, it helps in balancing the abundance of bacteria in the soil and so balances the ecology and the environment as well.

2. The amoeba is considered as a primary consumer in the food web of any ecosystem. This type of organism does not produce its own food like plants, rather it obtains its food from other microorganisms or in some species by being photosynthetic. And, it is also important to note that all the food webs begin at the microscopic level and Amoeba is one of those simplest living organisms that play a key role at the beginning.

3. Amoeba is an ammonotelic animal because it excretes nitrogenous wastes in the form of Ammonium. The microorganisms they eat contain a much higher carbon to nitrogen proportion, so they can discharge the overabundance nitrogen as ammonium (NH4+). Ammonium is utilized by plants or other organisms by getting the nitrogen content from the soil. This nitrogen content thus enters the biochemical nitrogen cycle for functioning in the nucleic acids, amino acids, or chelating porphyrin rings for particles like hemoglobin or chlorophyll, and many more biological compounds.

4. Amoebae are very much essential for fulfilling the nutrient requirements of the soil. They do so by recycling nutrients in the soil. The bacteria take the nutrient that is available in the soil and when these bacteria are consumed by the amoeba, nutrients are released back into the soil due to amoeboid excretion. This brings the nutrients available to the plants.

5. Amoeba can engulf photosynthetic bacteria to become photosynthetic itself. Scientists have revealed in 2016 a fact that amoeba can engulf a bacterium and keep it within its cell alive and will eventually utilize the bacterial genes for the purpose of photosynthesis. This acquired photosynthetic power by the various heterotropic amoebae can help the organisms convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and sugar via solar energy. Thus the amoeba helps the ecosystem by being the simplest primary consumers.

6. Amoeba maintains bacterial growth in the soil. Bacteria actively promotes the decomposition of waste in soil and aquatic ecosystems. Moreover, they can also control the presence of those fungi that harms the plants. The amoebae attach to the surface of fungal hyphae and generate enzymes that eat through the fungal cell wall. The amoeba then sucks dry or engulfs the cytoplasm inside the fungal cell before moving onto its next victim.

7. Amoebae can enter deep into the soil reaching the groundwater systems from the soil surface. There are various amoebae known so far that can be seen in the deep groundwater systems, especially where the bacterial populations get to high densities. Thus, they help in better controlling the bacterial populations in soils at the deepest level possible which causes a positive impact on the ecology.

8. Amoeba plays a key role in the regulation of algae present in a pond or stagnant pool environment directly through their natural process of survival. They also feed on those overpopulating bacteria species that may be consuming too many algae within an environment. Thus, the amoeba helps in maintaining the overall balance in its environment.

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