Do you ever wonder how the amoeba eats its food even though it does not have a mouth? It has several finger-like projections called pseudopodia that help it take in the food. Let’s know more about this interesting mode of nutrition. First, a little bit more about this tiny creature.
Amoeba – the Single-celled Wonder
Amoeba is a microscopic unicellular organism. It mostly resides in places like pond water. It’s structure consists of the following basic components:
- a cell membrane
- a nucleus
- cytoplasm – endoplasm and ectoplasm
- small food vacuoles ( these look like small bubbles )
- finger-like projections called pseudopodia ( also known as ” false feet” )
Fun fact: With the help of pseudopodia, this unicellular organism can not only change its size and shape but also capture its food!
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Feeding And Digestion In Amoeba
Amoeba possesses a holozoic mode of nutrition and process is known as “phagocytosis”. The basic processes involved in the nutrition include:
(Phagocytosis in Amoeba) (Source: Wikipedia)
- Ingestion: Amoeba takes in its food through this process. Initially, it pushes out its pseudopodia so that it can encircle the food. After this, it engulfs the food, thus forming a bag-like structure called food vacuole. The process is known as “phagocytosis”.
- Digestion: This step follows ingestion. The food vacuoles are rich in various digestive enzymes. These enzymes break down large insoluble foodstuffs consequently yielding simple soluble molecules.
- Absorption: It is the process of absorption of the digested food material into the cytoplasm leaving behind the undigested food material. Sometimes the amoeba absorbs large quantities of food. What happens to the excess food? Well, the excess food gets stored in the form of glycogen as well as lipids.
- Assimilation: This is the “utilization” process. During this process, the absorbed food is utilized for energy production, growth, repair as well as for multiplication.
- Egestion: Finally, the cell membrane gets ruptured so that the undigested food material is thrown out of the body.
INGESTION ⇒ DIGESTION ⇒ ABSORPTION ⇒ ASSIMILATION ⇒ EGESTION
Learn more about Digestion in Ruminants here.
Fun Facts about Amoeba
- It is mostly known to be a microscopic creature. But did you know that certain species like the Pelomyxa Palustris which can grow up to be almost 5 millimetres in size!
- If you try to startle an amoeba, it consequently arranges itself in such a way so as to form a star.
- August Johann Rösel von Rosenhof was the scientist who first discovered these tiny organisms.
- Besides fresh, they also reside in salty waters.
- Entamoeba histolytica is the evil amoeba found in the human alimentary canal that can cause amoebic dysentery.
Now, keeping in mind you have understood about how the amoeba feeds on its food and absorbs it, let’s test our knowledge on this topic.
Learn more about the Human Digestive System here.
Questions For You
Q1. What is the process of obtaining food in amoeba called?
a. Assimilation b. Egestion
c. Phagocytosis d. Pseudopodia
Ans: Phagocytosis is the process by which the amoeba obtains its food.
Q2. What are the finger-like projections present in amoeba called?
a. Podocytes b. Phagocytes
c. Pseudopodia d. Pseudocysts
Ans: The finger-like projections are called “pseudopodia“. They not only help in engulfing food molecules but also help the organism in movement.