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Question

What is euglena? How does it show both autotrophic and heterotrophic modes of nutrition?

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Solution

Euglena are unicellular organisms classified into the Kingdom Protista, and the Phylum Euglenophyta.
All euglena have chloroplasts and can make their own food by photosynthesis.
They are not completely autotrophic though, euglena can also absorb food from their environment; euglenas usually live in quiet ponds or puddles.
The Euglena is unique in that it is both heterotrophic (must consume food) and autotrophic (can make its own food).

Chloroplasts within the euglena trap sunlight that is used for photosynthesis, and can be seen as several rod like structures throughout the cell.
Euglena also have an eyespot at the anterior end that detects light, it can be seen near the reservoir.
This helps the euglena find bright areas to gather sunlight to make their food.
Euglena can also gain nutrients by absorbing them across their cell membrane, hence they become heterotrophic when light is not available, and when they cannot photosynthesize. It is because of this they are also called mixotrophs.


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