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The genus includes small uni-nucleate amoebae with spiny appearance that produces smooth spherical cysts. The amoeba are about 10-15 mm long and the cysts are about 8  mm in diameter.  Echinamoeba cysts do not have pores and appear to have thin walls.

Echinamoeba bears a resemblance to Acanthamoeba, but despite this, a number of studies comparing SSUrRNA gene sequences suggests that Echinamoeba is most closely related to Hartmannella (Amaral-Zettler et al, 2000; Bolivar et al, 2001; Baumgartner et al, 2003; Peglar et al, 2003).  The analysis of relations within the Echinamoeba group will be complicated by the fact that it is possible to isolate more than one sequence from some strains using the standard SSUrRNA gene primers (Baumgartner et al, 2003) as they contain more than one gene.

Echinamoeba has not been found to be pathogenic but the amoeba was identified along with Acanthamoeba and Naegleria from a necrotic lesion in the tail of a Basiliscus lizard (Walochik et al, 1999).  Echinamoeba support the intracellular growth of pathogenic Pseudomonas bacteria associated with an out break in a hospital (Michel et al, 1995).


Described species:-

Echinamoeba exudans (Page, 1965) AF293895. Freshwater lake, Tuskegee, Alabama, USA.
Echinamoeba silvestris (Page, 1964) Soil from Wandlebury wood, Cambridge England
Echinamoeba thermarum (
Baumgartner et al, 2003) AJ489264-AJ489268. Isolated from various hot springs in Italy, Russia, Costa Rica and USA


Available species:-
Echinamoeba exudans SH274 ATCC 50171  From a hot water tank in California, USA
Echinamoeba exudans NC-AS-5-1 ATCC 50434
Echinamoeba exudans CCAP 1534/4
Freshwater lake, Tuskegee, Alabama, USA.
Echinamoeba silverstris CCAP 1519/1 Soil from Wandlebury wood, Cambridge England


Echinamoeba at the Protist Information Server

Amaral Zettler, L. A., Nerad, T. A., O'Kelly, C. J., Peglar, M. T., Gillevet, P. M., Silberman, J. D. & Sogin, M. L. (2000) A molecular reassessment of the Leptomyxid amoebae. Protist. 151, 275-282.

Baumgartner, M., Yapi, A., Grobner-Ferreira, R. & Stetter, K. O. (2003) Cultivation and properties of Echinamoeba thermarum n.sp., an extremely thermophilic amoeba thriving in hot springs. Extremophiles. 7, 267-274.

Bolivar, I., Fahrni, J. F., Smirnov, A. & Pawlowski, J. (2001) SSU rRNA-based phylogenetic position of the genera Amoeba and Chaos (Lobosea, Gymnamoebia): The origin of gymnamoebae revisited. Mol.Biol.Evol. 18, 2306-2314.

Jahn, Bovee & Griffiths, 1974

Page, F.C. (1993). "Marine Gymnamoebae". Cambridge Inst.Terr.Ecol. NERC

Michel, R., Burghardt, H. & Bergmann, H. (1995) Acanthamoeba, naturally intracellularly infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, after their isolation from a microbiologically contaminated drinking water systemin a hospital. Zentralbl. Hyg. Umweltmed. 196, 532-544.

Walochnik, J., Hassl, A., Simon, K., Benyr, G. & Asp÷ck, H. (1999) Isolation and identification by partial sequencing of the 18S ribosomal gene of free-living amoebae from necrotic tissue of Basiliscus plumifrons (Sauria: Iguanidae). Parisitol.Res. 85, 601-603.

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