Vampyrellids are naked, filose amoebae, i.e., they lack a shell and their pseudopodia are thin and tapering. They are predators of algae, fungi and other microorganisms in freshwater, soil or marine environments. In the vampyrellid life cycle, amoeboid, free moving trophozoites alternate with an obligatory digestive cyst dedicated to digestion and cell division. The common name "Vampire Amoebae" has been been applied to this group because some vampyrellids perforate the cell wall of algal prey in order to extract the cell content.
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