Lectotype species: Euglena viridis (O.F.Müller) Ehrenberg
Original publication:Ehrenberg, C.G. (1830). Neue Beobachtungen über blutartige Erscheinungen in Aegypten, Arabien und Sibirien, nebst einer Uebersicht und Kritik der früher bekannten. Annalen der Physik und Chemie, Ser. 2 8: 477-514.
Type designated in Dujardin, F. (1841). Histoire naturelle des Zoophytes, Infusoires, comprenant la physiologie et la clasification de ces animaux et la manière de les étudier à l'aide du microscope. pp. i-xii, 1-684. Paris: Librarie Encyclopédique de Roret.
Taxonomic status: currently recognized as a distinct genus.
Most recent taxonomic treatment adopted: Cavalier-Smith, T. (2016). Higher classification and phylogeny of Euglenozoa. European Journal of Protistology 56: 250–276, 2 figs.
Silva (1960: 19) notes "Euglena (Euglenaceae, Euglenophyta). This genus was established by Ehrenberg (1830a, p. 508) to accommodate those euglenoid organisms that have eyespots. Five species were originally assigned to Euglena, namely, Cercaria viridis Mueller, C. pleuronectes Mueller, Vibrio acus Mueller, Euglena spirogyra Ehrenb. (nomen nudum), and E. sanguinea Ehrenb. (nomen nudum, non E. sanguinea (Nees et Goldf.) Ehrenb.). Dujardin (1841, pp. 349, 358) lectotypified Euglena with Cercaria viridis." - (17 Mar 2013) - M.D. Guiry
Description: Green flagellates with elongate, ovoid or fusiform cells, varying in length from 20 to 500 _m, and with 2 flagella originating within an anterior invagination of the cell. The highly mobile long flagellum emerges from the subapical canal opening as the organelle of locomotion, the other is so short that it ends within the reservoir (basal region of the invagination). The locomotory flagellum is doubled in thickness by a paraflagellar rod and bears a complex array of fibrous material, including a unilateral row of long fine hairs (visible only in the electron microscope). Locomotion involves helical rotation of the cell; most species exhibit euglenoid movement (rapid changes of body shape) when swimming stops, a few are almost rigid. Chloroplasts vary in shape (discs, plates or ribbons), size, number per cell (from 2 to several hundred) and pyrenoid type (naked, sheathed, projecting, immersed or absent); chloroplast lamellae have 3 or more thylakoids except in the pyrenoid matrix where there are only 2; the chloroplasts are grass-green and contain chlorophylls a and b, _-carotene, astaxanthin, antheraxanthin, diadinoxanthin and neoxanthin. All species are photoauxotrophic, some facultatively heterotrophic, none phagotrophic. The reserve carbohydrate is paramylon, solid grains or links of a _-1,3-linked glucan with helical organization. Aging cells fill with brown droplets of lipid (lipofuscin) and cyclic metaphosphates. All species have an extraplastidial, _-carotene-containing, orange-red eyespot that curves partway around the canal-reservoir junction in the anterior cytoplasmic matrix, opposite a crystalline swelling (presumed photoreceptor) on the base of the long flagellum. All species are strongly phototactic. Cells have helical symmetry, usually with an imposed bilateral symmetry, with or without slight cell flattening. Pellicle consists of flexible, elastic, interlocking, proteinaceous strips that spiral along the cell and intussuscept at both ends. Pellicle lies within the cell membrane and cells are naked except for a thin layer of mucilage secreted from subpellicular muciferous bodies. Some species form mucilaginous cysts or palmellae. Mitosis in Euglena is completely intranuclear, with a persisting and dividing nucleolus, high chromosome numbers (ca. 45 in E. gracilis, ca. 86 in E. spirogyra), staggered and untidy chromatid segregation, nucleoplasmic microtubules only (no cytoplasmic ones) and tiny kinetochores (only 4 microtubules) per chromatid in E. gracilis). Reproduction is by longitudinal fission. Records of sexual reproduction are rare and unsubstantiated. Ultrastructural details of Golgi bodies, mitochondria, flagellar roots, endoplasmic reticulum and contractile vacuole are well documented and diagnostic for the class. Euglena gracilis (and less easily E. anabaena, deses, pisciformis, stellata and viridis) can be grown axenically in undefined media such as 0.2% beef extract; E. gracilis grows phototrophically or heterotrophically on acetates, organic acids, alcohols, or sugars, with an absolute requirement for cobalamin (vitamin B12). It is therefore used in hospitals to assay blood for B12, lack of which causes pernicious anemia in humans. E. gracilis, though relatively rare in nature, is the dominant research organism in euglenology and many areas of physiology and biochemistry. Cells grown in the dark reduce their chloroplasts to proplastids that can divide and survive for years but, given light, will expand, synthesize chlorophyll and resume photosynthesis within 24 hours, thus providing ideal material for research on chloroplast physiology and development. Permanently colorless races without chloroplasts can be produced in culture using heat, ultraviolet irradiation, streptomycin and other antibiotics, antihistamines and other chemicals; some of the bleached races are identical to naturally occurring species of Astasia, especially A. longa. Strains of E. gracilis are also used in research on DNA, RNA, photoinduction of enzyme synthesis, lipid metabolism, heterotrophic nutrition, respiratory pathways, flagellar movement and photoreception. This wide use of Euglena in research is summarized in Buetow (1968a, 1968b, 1982, 1989). Euglena spp. are predominantly freshwater organisms of worldwide distribution, occurring in farmyards, greenhouse tanks, agricultural drainage channels, muddy ponds, peaty pools and acidic lakes (down to pH 2.5). Waters contaminated by animals often produce blooms, especially of E. viridis. Brackish species can color estuarine mudflats green in dull light, the color vanishing in full sunshine as the cells creep away from the mud surface. A few species have been recorded from the open sea. Emend. Marin & Melkonian (in Marin et al. 2003: 101).
Information contributed by: G.F. Leedale. The most recent alteration to this page was made on 30 Dec 2017 by M.D. Guiry.
Numbers of names and species: There are 338 species names in the database at present, as well as 225 infraspecific names. Of the species names, 164 have been flagged as accepted taxonomically on the basis of the listed literature under the species name. In some instances, opinions on taxonomic validity differ from author to author and users are encouraged to form their own opinion. AlgaeBase is a work in progress and should not be regarded as a definitive source only as a guide to the literature..
Names: ('C' indicates a name that is accepted taxonomically; 'S' a homotypic or heterotypic synonym; 'U' indicates a name of uncertain taxonomic status, but which has been subjected to some verification nomenclaturally; 'P' indicates a preliminary AlgaeBase entry that has not been subjected to any kind of verification. For more information on a species click on it to activate a link to the Species database):
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Throndsen, J. (1996). The planktonic marine flagellates. In: Identifying marine phytoplankton. (Tomas, C.R. Eds), pp. 591-730. San Diego: Academic Press.
Nudelman, M.A., Rossi, M.S., Conforti, V. & Triemer, R.E. (2003). Phylogeny of Euglenophyceae based on small subunit rDNA sequences: taxonomic implications. Journal of Phycology 39: 226-235.
Verification of data
Users are responsible for verifying the accuracy of information before use, as noted on the website Content page.
Some of the descriptions included in AlgaeBase were originally from the unpublished Encyclopedia of Algal Genera, organised in the 1990s by Dr Bruce Parker on behalf of the Phycological Society of America (PSA) and intended to be published in CD format. These AlgaeBase descriptions are now being continually updated, and each current contributor is identified above. The PSA and AlgaeBase warmly acknowledge the generosity of all past and present contributors and particularly the work of Dr Parker.
Descriptions of chrysophyte genera were subsequently published in J. Kristiansen & H.R. Preisig (eds.). 2001. Encyclopedia of Chrysophyte Genera. Bibliotheca Phycologica 110: 1-260.
Created: 11 April 2002 by M.D. Guiry
Verified by: 30 December 2017 by M.D. Guiry
Linking to this page: http://www.algaebase.org/search/genus/detail/?genus_id=43651
Please cite this record as:
M.D. Guiry in Guiry, M.D. & Guiry, G.M. 2019. AlgaeBase. World-wide electronic publication, National University of Ireland, Galway. http://www.algaebase.org; searched on 22 March 2019.