EDInfo Biomedical Sciences Maciver Lab. Home ABP  A-Z Encyclopaedia Amoebae Protist Links Cytoskeleton Links Site Index


Page updated 11/8/'03

A Hartmannella species.  This strain is extremely long and narrow!.  It has been isolated from heavy clay in a park in North Berwick, Scotland and is probably a H. vermiformis strain?

The genus Hartmannella are limax amoeba that move by steady advance of the usually single pseudopod rather than the erratic, eruptive progress of another common limax genera Vahlkampfia. Hyaline region never spills along the ides as frequently happens with Vahlkampfia. Some species are cyst forming, all so far known have distinct Golgi.  When present the cysts have a smooth, spherical or slight oval appearance with a single wall.  Hartmannella are elongated thin amoebae, their length exceeding their girth by about 6 fold. The glycocalyx when visible is thin but in some species can be organised into vague structures. Some Hartmannella have cytoplasmic crystals. Up until 1983 (Page, 1983) there was only one Hartmannella known to be truly marine, that being H. abertawensis (Page, 1980), since then other marine species have been described (Anderson et al, 1997; Smirnov 1996; Rogerson & Gwaltney, 2000).  The nucleus tend to be indistinct but when visible show a central single nucleolus. Some nuclei have a "dense body" close by.   A kinship between Acanthamoeba and Hartmannella is suggested by the fact that both  genera are host to a number of similar pathological bacteria, and the name Hartmanella has historically been used to describe Acanthamoeba a very different looking amoeba.  It seems that the two genera are related, by some SSUrDNA analysis at least (Cavalier-Smith 1996; Weekers et al, 1994; Atkins et al, 2000).  However, other analysis tending to include more amoebal species (Sogin et al, 1996; Amaral Zettler et al, 2000; Bolivar et al, 2001; Peglar et al, 2003), conclude the two species are not closely related, and place Acanthamoeba together with Balamuthia in a separate grouping while Hartmannella is grouped with Echinamoeba.  This later classification seems to be more satisfactory.

Hartmannella and Human Health.
H. vermiformis is a host for a number of human bacterial pathogens  (see also pathogenic amoeba).  Most famously, Hartmannella are infectable with the pathogenic bacteria Legionella pneumophila (Fields et al, 1990). This is significant for human health as the bacteria may multiply to threatening numbers within the amoeba and then come into contact with typically immuno-compromised people through inhalation (e.g. shower aerosol).  The passage of the bacteria through Hartmannella seems to increase the pathogenicity of the bacteria for humans (Brieland et al, 1996; Brieland et al, 1997).

Hartmannella have also been implicated in human keratitis (Aitken et al, 1996), a disease much more often associated with Acanthamoeba.  However, is seems probable that Hartmannella are not primarily responsible for the pathology (De Jonckheere & Brown, 1998; Inoue et al, 1998).


Hartmannella at the Protist Information Server


Described species:-
H. abertawensis (Page, 1980). Marine. 7.4 - 19mm (x 11.5mm). Glycocalyx arranged as "truncated pyramids". This amoeba is sluggish moving at 10-13mm/minute, this may be related to the fact that he often fail to adhere at the anterior. Floating forms are irregular rounded and extent pseudopods (3.8 - 5.4mm). No cyst mentioned.
H. agricola not valid according to Page (Page, 1988).
H. cantabrigiensis (Page, 1974). 
H. crumpae (Singh & Hanumaiah, 1979) not valid according to Page (Page, 1988).
H. hibernica (Page, 1980). Marine. Now reclassified as Nollandella hibernica (Page, 1983).
H. hyalina not valid according to Page (Page, 1988).
H. lobifera (Smirnov, 1996). Marine. 28 - 42mm (x 35.2mm). Hyaline cap often obscured by granuloplasm . Nucleus 3.5 - 6mm with central nucleolus (1-2mm).  Cyst present 10-12mm in diameter. 
H. vacuolata (Anderson et al,1997). Marine. 
H. vermiformis (Page, 1967). This appears to be the most commonly isolated species. Many strains are available (see below). The species is diagnosed through the ultrastructure of the trophozoite, its locomotion and the morphology of the cyst although this later indication has been questioned as a strain (C3/8) exhibits markedly different cyst morphology and yet its SSUrDNA gene indicates that it is a H. vermiformis strain (Walochnick et al, 2002). 
Available strains:-
H. abertawensis CCAP 1534/9 Page 1975. Marine, Swansea Beach, Traeth Abertawe, Wales
H. cantabrigiensis CCAP 1534/8 Page 1972. Freshwater King's College,Cambridge, England
H. cantabrigiensis CCAP 1534/11 Page 1972. Freshwater Coe Fen,Cambridge, England
H. limax ATCC 30939 Griffin. Freshwater.
H. thermophila ATCC50599 Sawyer.
H. vermiformis ATCC30966 (SSUrDNA M95168) Page 1964, Freshwater USA.
H. vermiformis ATCC30967 Another Hartmannella sp. present. Page 1964, Freshwater USA.
H. vermiformis ATCC50236(derived from ATCC30966) Page 1964, Freshwater USA.
H. vermiformis ATCC50237 Fields, Hospital cooling tower drain, S. Dakota  USA.
H. vermiformis ATCC50256 Wadowsky, Hot water tank, Pittsburgh. PA.  USA.
H. vermiformis CCAP 1534/7A Page 1964. Freshwater, Pigeon Lake,Wisconsin, USA.
H. vermiformis CCAP 1534/7B (SSUrDNA X75515) Page 1974. Soil, Wandelebury Wood. near Cambridge, England
H. vermiformis CCAP 1534/12 Page 1964. Freshwater, Kankakee River, Indiana, USA.


Aitken, D., Hay, J., Kinnear, F. B., Kirkness, C. M., Lee, W. R. & Seal, D. V. (1996) Amebic keratitis in a weare of diposable contact lenses due to a mixed Vahlkampfia and Hartmannella infection. Ophthalmology. 103, 485-494.

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.

Anderson, O.R., Rogerson, A. & Hannah, F. (1997). Three new limax amoebae isolated from marine surface sediments: Vahlkampfia caledonica N. Sp., Saccamoeba marina N. Sp., and Hartmannella vacuolata N.Sp. J.Euk.Microbiol. 44(1), 33-42.

Atkins, M.S., McArthur, A.G., & Teske, A.P. (2000). Ancyromonadida: a new phylogenetic lineage among the protozoa closely related to the common ancestor of metazoans, fungi, and choanoflagellates (Opisthokonta). J.Mol.Biol. 51, 278-285.

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.

Brieland J et al. (1996). Coinoculation with Hartmannella vermiformis enhances replicative Legionella pneumophila lung infection in a murine model of Legionnaires' disease. Infect. Immun. 64,  2449-2456.

Brieland, J. K., Fantone, J. C., Remick, D. G., leGendre, M., McClain, M. & Engleberg, N. C. (1997) The role of Legionella pneumophila-infected Hartmannella vermiformis as an infectious particel in a murine model of Legionnaires' disease.  Infect.Immun. 65, 5330-5333.

De Jonckheere, J. F. & Brown, S. (1999) Non-Acanthamoeba amoebic keratitis., Cornea. 18, 499-501.

Gunderson J.H., Goss, S.J. & Sogin, M.L. (1994). The sequence of the Hartmannella vermiformis small subunit rRNA coding region. J. Eukaryot. Microbiol. 41, 481-482

Inoue, T., Asari, S., Tahara, K., Hayashi, K., Kiritoshi, A. & Shimomura, Y. (1998) Acanthamoeba keratitis with symbiosis of Hartmannella ameba., Am.J.Ophthalmol. 125, 721-723.

Page, F. C. (1967) Taxonomic criteria for limax amoebae, with descriptions of 3 new species of Hartmannella and 3 of Vahlkampfia., J.Protozool. 14, 499-521.

Page F.C. (1969). Hartmannella limax: the original limax amoeba?. Trans. Am. Microsc. Soc. 88, 199-204

Page, F.C. (1974). A further study of taxomomic criteria for limax amoebae, with descriptions of new species and a key to genera.  Arch.Protistenk. 116: 149-184.

Page, F.C. (1980). A light- and electron-microscopic comparison of limax and flabellate marine amoebae belonging to four genera.  Protistologica 16(1): 57-78.

Page, F.C. (1983). Marine Gymnamoebae. Cambridge Inst.Terr.Ecol. NERC.

Page, F.C. (1988). A new key to freshwater and soil gymnamoebae. CCAP  Inst.Terr.Ecol.

Peglar, M. T., Amaral Zettler, L. A., Anderson, O. R., Nerad, T. A., Gillevet, P. M., Mullen, T. E., Frasca Jr, S., Silverman, J. D., O'Kelly, C. J. & Sogin, M. L. (2003) Two new small-subunit ribosomal RNA gene lineages within the subclass Gymnamoebia. J.Eukaryot.Microbiol. 50, 224-232.

Smirnov, A.V. (1996). Two new species of marine amoebae: Hartmannella lobifera n. sp. and Korotnevella nivo n. sp. (Lobosea, Gymnamoebida). Arch.Protistenkd. 147, 283-292.

Smirnov, A.V. & Michel, R. (2000). New data on the cyst structure of Hartmannella vermiformis Page, 1967 (Lobosea, Gymnamoebia).  Protistology 1(2), 82-85.

Sogin, M. L., Silberman, J.D, Hinkle, G. & Morrison, H.G. (1996). Problems with molecular diversity in the eukarya. .Society of General Microbiology Symposium: Evolution of microbial Life ed.Roberts, D.M., Sharp, P., Alderson, G. & Collins, M.A. Cambridge University Press. pp167-184.

Rogerson, A. & Gwaltney, C. (2000). High numbers of naked amoebae in the planktonic waters of a mangrove stand in Southern Florida, USA. J.Euk.Microbiol. 47(3): 235-241.

Walochnik, J., Michel, R. & Asp÷ck, H. (2002) Discrepancy between morphological and molecular biological characters in a strain of Hartmannella vermiformis Page 1967 (Lobosea, Gymnamoebia). Protistology. 2, 185-188.

Weekers, P.H.H., Gast, R.J., Fuerst, P.A.& Byers, T.J. (1994). Sequence variations in small-subunit ribosomal RNAs of Hartmannella vermiformis and their phylogenetic implications. Mol.Biol.Evol.11(4): 684-690.

Weekers P.H .H. & Van der Drift C. (1993).Nitrogen metabolizing enzyme activities in the free-living soil amoebae Acanthamoeba castellanii, Acanthamoeba polyphaga, Hartmannella vermiformis. J. Eukaryot. Microbiol. 40, 251-254.

Wadowsky R.M. et al. (1995). Gentamicin-containing peptone-yeast extract medium for cocultivation of Hartmannella veriformis ATCC 50256 and virulent strains of Legionella pneumophila. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 61,  4464-4467.

Visvesvara G.S. & Balamuth W. (1975). Comparative studies on related free-living and pathogenic amebae with special reference to Acanthamoeba. J. Protozool. 22, 245-256

Kwaik YA. (1996)The phagosome containing Legionella pneumophila within the protozoan Hartmannella vermiformis is surrounded by the rough endoplasmic reticulum. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 62, 2022-2028. 

Kwaik Y et al. (1994).Protein expression by the protozoan Hartmannella vermiformis upon contact with its bacterial parasite Legionella pneumophila Infect. Immun. 62, 1860-1866.

Wadowsky RM et al. (1995). Gentamicin-containing peptone-yeast extract medium for cocultivation of Hartmannella veriformis ATCC 50256 and virulent strains of Legionella pneumophila. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 61,  4464-4467.

  EDInfo Biomedical Sciences Cytoskeletal Links Encyclopaedia of A.B.P.s The Amoebae Protozoology links Glossary of Amoeba terms   Maciver Lab Home