These golden-brown algae are characterized by tentacles or rhizopodia on basically amoeboid vegetative cells (Moestrup, 1995 ; Preisig, 1995). Amoeboid cells are relatively rare among the algae, being mostly restricted to the Dictyochophyceae and the Xanthophyceae (Hibberd and Chretiennot-Dinet, 1979). The algae in the Dictyochophyceae have been previously classified in the Chrysophyceae, although molecular evidence shows them to be most closely related to the Pelagophyceae (Cavalier-Smith et al., 1995) or Eustigmatophyceae (Daugbjerg and Andersen, 1997).
The Dictyochophyceae can be divided into three orders (Preisig, 1995).
Order 1 Rhizochromulinales : marine and freshwater unicells with tentacles.
Order 2 Pedinellales : unicells with a long anterior flagellum and a second flagellum reduced to a basal body, usually three to six chloroplasts (if chloroplasts are present), marine and freshwater.
Order 3 Dictyocales : marine unicells with an external silicified skeleton.
This order contains the more primitive organisms in the order (O'Kelly and Wujek, 1995). Rhizochromulina (Fig. 14.1(a), (b)) has amoeboid non-flagellated vegetative cells with many finebeaded filipodia and a single golden-brown chloroplast (Hibberd and Chretiennot-Dinet, 1979). The fusiform zoospore has a single tinsel flagellum with a second basal body in the protoplasm (Fig. 14.1(b)). Chrysoamoeba (Fig. 14.1(d)) lives as a solitary amoeba for the greater part of its life cycle, transforming into swimming cells with a single long flagellum only for short periods. In Phaeaster (Fig. 14.1(c)), the anterior portion of the cell is drawn out into rhizopodia.
The pedinellids are unique in containing genera that are phototrophic (Apedinella (Fig. 14.2(c)), Pseudopedinella), mixotrophic (able to photosynthesize and take up organic compounds) (Pedinella) (Fig. 14.2(a), (b)), and phagotrophic (Pteridomonas, Ciliophrys). The phagotrophic genera have vestigial chloroplasts and evolved from genera with chloroplasts (Sekiguchi et al., 2002). The organisms in this order have three interconnected microtubules (triads) that course from the nuclear envelope through tentacles (if they are present) to the plasma membrane (Fig. 14.2(a)) (Daugbjerg, 1996).