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The genus Tetramitus is an old one being named over 150 years ago! (Perty, 1852). However, it is not at all certain how these very early isolates are related to those presently now classified as Tetramitus as it is apparent that morphological criteria alone may not be sufficient. Tetramitus has been reclassified on the basis of SSUrDNA sequence analysis (Brown & De Jonckheere, 1999).  This group were previously diagnosed as being limax amoebae of the family VahlkampfiiidTetramitus are freshwater although there is a salt tolerant strain of T. jugosis (fomerly Paratetramitus jugosus) that exists in a semi-marine locality (Read et al, 1983)T. jugosis is common in soils many have been isolated from a variety of locations (Darbyshire et al, 1976). The possibility of fully marine Tetramitus members has been discussed (Page, 1983) who reported a personal communication of a marine Tetramitus salinas by Prof. Balamuth

Learamoeba waccamawensis (Sawyer et al 1998) is 98.7% identical to Tetramitus rostratus and may therefore be considered to belong to the genus Tetramitus, but argue that the morphological differences are sufficient to warrant its inclusion in its own genus (see SSUrDNA vs Morphology in the Classification of the Amoebae).

Like others in the family Vahlkampiidae, Tetramitus is primarily bactivorous (Enzein et al, 1989; Read et al, 1983), and some, Didascalus (which is identical to Adelphamoeba galeacystis, are able to consume bacteria and divide as flagellates (De Jonckeheere et al, 1997). Tetramitus rostratus itself was described at first only in its flagellate stage (Perty, 1852 reference in Balamuth et al, 1983) and is able to feed and divide in this stage. 


Former name Present name Number of flagella Length of amoeba Length of Flagella
Vahlkampfia aberdonica Tetramitus aberdonica
V. enterica Tetramitus enterica
V. lobospinosa Tetramitus lobospinosa
Paratetramitus jugosus Tetramitus jugosus usually 2
Tetramitus rostratus Tetramitus rostratus 4
Didascalus thorntoni Tetramitus thorntoni
Table 1 The Tetramitus genus renamed (Brown & De Jonckheere, 1999) note that most do not have 4 flagella which is the meaning of Tetramitus.



Balamuth, W., Bradbury, P.C. and Schuster, F.L. (1983). Ultrastructure of the amoeboflagellate Tetramitus rostratus. J.Protozool. 30(2): 445-455.

Brown, S. and De Jonckheere  J. F.  (1999). A reevaluation of the amoeba genus Vahlkampfia based on SSUrDNA sequences.Eur.J.Protistol. 35: 49-54.

Darbyshire, J. F., Page, F.C., and Goodfellow, L.P. (1976). Paratetramitus jugosus, an amoebo-flagellate of soils and freshwater, type-species of Paratetramitus nov. gen. Protistologica 12: 375-387.

Enzien, M., McKhann, H. I. & Margulis, L. (1989) Ecology and life history of an amoebomastigote, Paratetramitus jugosus, from a microbial mat: New evidence for multiple fission. Biol.Bull. 177, 110-129.

Page, F. C. (1983). Marine Gymnamoebae, Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, NERC.

Read, L. K., Margulis,.L., Stolz, J., Obar, R., and Sawyer, T.K. (1983). A new strain of Paratetramitus jugosus from Laguna Figueroa, Baja California, Mexico.  Biol.Bull. 165: 241-264.

Sawyer, T. K., Nerad, T.A,  Cahoon, L.B., and Nearhoof, J.E.(1998). Learamoeba waccamawensis, N..G., N.Sp. (Heterolobosea: Vahkampfiidae), a new temperature-tolerant cyst-forming soil amoeba. J.Euk.Microbiol. 45(3): 260-264.


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