• Brian S. Leander
  • Gordon Lax
  • Anna Karnkowska
  • Alastair G. B. Simpson
Living reference work entry


Euglenids are a group of >1500 described species of single-celled flagellates with diverse modes of nutrition, including phagotrophy and photoautotrophy. The group also encompasses a clade of specialist “primary” osmotrophs (Aphagea) and, very likely, one group of phagotrophs that are ectosymbiont-supporting anaerobes (Symbiontida). Almost all euglenids are free-living. The (usually) one or two emergent flagella have thick paraxonemal (paraxial) rods and originate in a deep pocket/reservoir, while the cell surface is almost always supported by a pellicle of parallel proteinaceous strips underlain by microtubules. Cells with 4–12 strips are rigid; most of those with more strips (typically ~20–40) have them arranged helically and exhibit active cell deformation called “euglenid motion” or “metaboly.” Most phagotrophic euglenids are surface-associated bacterivores or eukaryovores that employ a flagellar gliding motility; they are abundant in marine and freshwater sediments. Photoautotrophic species (Euglenophyceae) constitute a single subclade within euglenids and have a plastid (chloroplast) of secondary endosymbiotic origin, with three bounding membranes. The plastid is typically green, with chlorophylls a + b, and was derived from a chloroplastidan alga related to the Pyramimonadales. Photoautotrophic euglenids move primarily by swimming, and most (members of the taxon Euglenales, e.g., Euglena) have a single emergent flagellum and are generally restricted to fresh and brackish waters.


Cytoskeleton Endosymbiosis Euglenozoa Evolution Feeding apparatus Pellicle Phylogeny Ultrastructure 



The authors thank Won Je Lee and Bożena Zakryś for extensive use of their unpublished micrographs. BSL and AGBS gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIfAR), program in Integrated Microbial Biodiversity. AK was supported by a grant from the Tula Foundation to the Centre for Microbial Biodiversity and Evolution at UBC.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian S. Leander
    • 1
  • Gordon Lax
    • 2
  • Anna Karnkowska
    • 1
  • Alastair G. B. Simpson
    • 2
  1. 1.The Departments of Botany and ZoologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of BiologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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