Euglenophyta (yōˌglənŏfˈətə) [key], small phylum (division) of the kingdom Protista, consisting of mostly unicellular aquatic algae. Most live in freshwater; many have flagella and are motile. The outer part of the cell consists of a firm but flexible layer called a pellicle, or periplast, which cannot properly be considered a cell wall. Some euglenoids contain chloroplasts that contain the photosynthetic pigments chlorophyll a and b, as in the phylum Chlorophyta; others are heterotrophic and can ingest or absorb their food. Food is stored as a polysaccharide, paramylon. Reproduction occurs by longitudinal cell division. The most characteristic genus is Euglena, common in ponds and pools, especially when the water has been polluted by runoff from fields or lawns on which fertilizers have been used. There are approximately 1,000 species of euglenoids.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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