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Domain  Eukaryota
Class  Oligohymenophorea
Scientific name  Frontonia
Rank  Genus
Subphylum  Intramacronucleata
Family  Frontoniidae
Phylum  Ciliophora
Order  Peniculid
Frontonia Protist Images Frontonia
Similar  Spirostomum, Coleps, Hypotrich, Colpoda, Stylonychia

Frontonia releasing trichocysts and exploding

Frontonia is a genus of free-living unicellular ciliate protists, belonging to the order Peniculida. As Peniculids, the Frontonia are closely related to members of the genus Paramecium. However, whereas Paramecia are mainly bacterivores, Frontonia are capable of ingesting large prey such as diatoms, filamentous algae, testate amoebas, and even, in some circumstances, members of their own species. In bacteria-rich saprobic conditions, Frontonia leucas can live as a facultative bacterivore.


Frontonia Protist Images Frontonia acuminata

Frontonia are widely dispersed, and members of the genus can be found in marine and freshwater environments on every continent.

Frontonia Frontonia Ehrenberg 1838 Checklist View

Frontonia acuminata ciliado ciliate

Appearance and characteristics

Frontonia FileFrontonia leucasogv Wikimedia Commons

Frontonia species vary in length from 50 to 600 micrometres. Cell bodies are typically ovoid or elongate, and somewhat flattened from back to front. They are flexible, uniformly ciliated, and usually surrounded by trichocysts. The small oral aperture is pear-shaped, and located in the anterior half of the cell. Along the left side of the opening there are three membranelles, and the right has a single paroral membrane. The mouth is supported by inconspicuous microtubular rods (nematodesmata), and may expand during feeding to as much as two-thirds of the cell's length.

The cytoplasm of some species, such as Frontonia atra and Frontonia acuminata, can be darkly pigmented.


The genus Frontonia, created by C. G. Ehrenberg in 1838, includes some thirty named and described species.

Frontonia httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu

In 2008, analysis of small subunit rRNA gene sequences confirmed the close relationship of several members of the genus: Frontonia leucas, F. vernalis, F. tchibisovae, F. lynni. However, Frontonia didieri was found to be related more closely to a species from another genus, Apofrontonia dohrni. This result calls into question the monophyly of the genus Frontonia, and also casts doubt on the morphological criteria used to distinguish Apofrontonia from it.

List of accepted species names

Frontonia Protist Images Frontonia
  • Frontonia aberrans Dragesco, 1960
  • Frontonia acuminata (Ehrenberg, 1834) Bütschli, 1889
  • Frontonia acuta Fromentel, 1876
  • Frontonia acutissima Dumas, 1930
  • Frontonia alba Fromentel, 1876
  • Frontonia algivora Kahl, 1931
  • Frontonia ambigua Dragesco, 1972
  • Frontonia angusta Kahl, 1931
  • Frontonia arenaria Kahl, 1933
  • Frontonia atra (Ehrenberg, 1834) Bütschli, 1889
  • Frontonia branchiostomae Codreanu, 1928
  • Frontonia canadensis
  • Frontonia caneti Dragesco, 1960
  • Frontonia curva Fromentel, 1876
  • Frontonia cypraea Zacharias, 1904
  • Frontonia depressa (Stokes, 1886) Kahl, 1931
  • Frontonia didieri Long, Song, AL-Rasheid, Wang, Yi, Al-Quraishy, Lin & AL-Farraj, 2008
  • Frontonia elliptica Beardsley, 1902
  • Frontonia frigida Petz, Song & Wilbert, 1995
  • Frontonia fusca Quennerstedt, 1869
  • Frontonia lacrimula Dumas, 1930
  • Frontonia leucas (Ehrenberg, 1834) Ehrenberg, 1838
  • Frontonia longaria Dumas, 1930
  • Frontonia lurida Blochmann, 1895
  • Frontonia lynni Long, Song, Gong, Hu, Ma, Zhu & Wang, 2005
  • Frontonia macrostoma Srámek-Husek, 1957
  • Frontonia magnistoma Foissner, 1987
  • Frontonia marina Fabre-Domergue, 1891
  • Frontonia marisalbi Burkovsky, 1970
  • Frontonia microstoma Kahl, 1931
  • Frontonia minuta Dragesco, 1970
  • Frontonia multinucleata Long, Song, AL-Rasheid, Wang, Yi, Al-Quraishy, Lin & AL-Farraj, 2008
  • Frontonia nassuloides Lepsi, 1926
  • Frontonia nigricans Penard, 1922
  • Frontonia obtusa
  • Frontonia ocularis Bullington, 1940
  • Frontonia ovalis Fromentel, 1876
  • Frontonia parameciiformis Wenzel, 1953
  • Frontonia parva Fromentel, 1876
  • Frontonia parvula Penard, 1922
  • Frontonia perna Fromentel, 1876
  • Frontonia piriformis Dumas, 1930
  • Frontonia roqueae Dragesco, 1970
  • Frontonia rostrata Fromentel, 1876
  • Frontonia rotunda Gelei, 1954
  • Frontonia salmastra Dragesco & Dragesco-Kernéis, 1986
  • Frontonia schaeferi Bullington, 1940
  • Frontonia solea Foissner, 1987
  • Frontonia tanganyikae Dragesco & Dragesco-Kernéis, 1991
  • Frontonia subtropica
  • Frontonia tchibisovae Burkovsky, 1970
  • Frontonia terricola Foissner, 1987
  • Frontonia undulata Dumas, 1929
  • Frontonia vacuolata Dragesco, 1960
  • Frontonia vernalis (Ehrenberg, 1834) Kahl, 1931
  • Frontonia vesiculosa Cunha, 1913

  • Frontonia Frontonia dissecting a ciliate appetite Scientific American Blog
    Frontonia 2012 06 Frontonia leucas YouTube


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