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Hyalosphenia Stein 1859

Ralf Meisterfeld and Edward Mitchell
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Containing group: Hyalospheniidae


About 20 species, type species: H. ligata (Tatem, 1870), Synonym: H. cuneata Schulze, 1875.


Species with compressed, chitinoid transparent shell with no foreign material; aperture often with a thickened lip. Two principal shell types: wedge-shaped or flask-shaped. All species have an ovular nucleus, some like H. papilio have a symbiosis with Zoochlorellae. The cell is fixed in the test by long epipodes (see title illustrations).

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

In a first SSU rRNA-tree the genus is not monophyletic and Hyalosphenia papilio and H. elegans are mixed in a clade with Nebela spp. (Lara et al. 2008).


The most common species of the wedge-shaped cell type is H. papilio Leidy, 1879. It is a dominant species in the green parts of wet sphagnum and therefore an excellent indicator in palaeoecological studies. H. elegans is a typical flask-shaped species, it is herbivorous and common in mosses and acid soils.

Additional ecological data: Schönborn (1962), Meisterfeld (1977), Bonnet (1989). 


Bonnet, L. 1989. Données écologiques sur quelques Hyalospheniidae et Paraquadrulidae (Thécamoebiens) des sols (Première partie). Bull. Soc. Hist. Nat. Toulouse, 125:17-22.

Grospietsch, T. 1965. Monographische Studie der Gattung Hyalosphenia STEIN, (Rhizopoda, Testacea). Hydrobiologia, 26:211-241.

Charret, R. 1964. Contribution a l'étude cytologique et biologique de Hyalosphenia papilio (Leidy), Rhizopode Testacé. Bull. Biol. France Belg., 98:369-390.

Lara, E., Heger, T.J., Ekelund, F, Lamentowicz and Mitchell, E.A.D. 2008: Ribosomal RNA Genes challenge the monophyly of the Hyalospheniidae (Amoebozoa: Arcellinida). Protist 159: 165-176.

Meisterfeld, R. 1977. Die horizontale und vertikale Verteilung der Testaceen (Rhizopoda, Testacea) in Sphagnum. Arch. Hydrobiol., 79:319-356.

Ogden, C. G. & Hedley, R. H. 1980. An Atlas of Freshwater Testate Amoebae. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Schönborn, W. 1962. Die Stratigraphie lebender Testaceen im Sphagnetum der Hochmoore. Limnologica, 1:315-321.

Title Illustrations
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Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Scientific Name Hyalosphenia papilio
Identified By Edward Mitchell
Copyright © Edward Mitchell
Scientific Name Hyalosphenia elegans
Location Seeon, Germany
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Identified By Ralf Meisterfeld
Copyright ©
About This Page

This page is being developed as part of the Tree of Life Web Project Protist Diversity Workshop, co-sponsored by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) program in Integrated Microbial Biodiversity and the Tula Foundation.

Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, Germany

Edward Mitchell
University of Neuchâtel

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Ralf Meisterfeld at and Edward Mitchell at

All Rights Reserved.

Citing this page:

Meisterfeld, Ralf and Edward Mitchell. 2008. Hyalosphenia Stein 1859. Version 02 September 2008 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Hyalosphenia/124528/2008.09.02 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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