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Nutrition In Protozoa

Protozoa obtain nutrition in many ways. Some synthesize their own food other have it synthesized by algae living in their cytoplasm and still others capture the food. Some Protozoa lead a parasitic life. Their modes of nutrition are as follows:

  • Holophytic nutrition: The phytoflagellates possess chloroplasts and chromatophores to synthesize their food by photosynthesis. They utilize sunlight, carbondioxide and water as raw materials. This method of self-feeding is referred to as phytotrophy. The dextrose sugar paramylon synthesized is characteristic of euglenoid flagellates.
  • Holozoic nutrition: Most of the Protozoa derive nutrition by ingesting other organisms. This mode of nutrition is said to be holozoic. It involves development of organelles for food capture, ingestion, digestion, assimilation and egestion of undigested food materials. They capture their food by flagella, pseudopodia and trichites. Some use axopodia, reticulopodia and tentacles to pull the prey that comes within their reach. In ciliates the ciliary oral apparatus is well developed for food capturing and driving it towards mouth or cytosome and then pushing it into the cytopharynx.
  • Pinocytosis: This method also called as cell drinking involves ingestion of liquid food by invagination through the surface of the body. The pinocytosis channels are formed which enclose the fluid from the surrounding medium. The lower ends of these channels are pinched as food vacuoles into the endoplasm. Pinocytosis is only induced by certain active substances in the medium surrounding the cell.  High molecular compounds from the external medium are absorbed by this method.
  • Saprozoic nutrition: This involves the absorption of food by osmosis, through the general body surface. So this method is referred as osmotrophy. The food mainly is the dead organic matter in the form of solution.
  • Myxotrophic nutrition: This is a combination of more than one ode of nutrition. Many protozoa using photosynthesis as a means also take in some part of their diet in dissolved form by osmotrophy or solid form by phagocytosis.
  • Nutrition of parasitic protozoa: The mechanisms used by parasitic protozoa are almost are similar to that of their non-parasitic protozoa.  Intestine inhabiting parasites have a distinct mouth or cytostome through which food particles are ingested by phagotrophy. Blood inhabiting parasites also feed rather similarly. The osmotrophic forms of protozoa are either coelozoic or histozoic. The coelozoic forms absorb their food by their cell surface. The histozoic forms feed on the substances by osmotrophy. Parasitic sparozoic forms may also use directly the serum of their host's blood.



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