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Diagnostic features

Free-swimming, asymmetrically mango-shaped cells with two flagella  emerging from a "gullet" at one end of the cell. Each cell has two yellow-brown chloroplasts. Periplast plates made of protein surround the cells of many cryptophytes, but these are translucent and difficult to see. Ejectosomes line the gullet, which also may be difficult to observe.  As this description shows, cryptomonads are extremely complex at the subcellular level, and in fact contain 4 separate genomes.

Typical habitats

Open water habitats in lakes, wetlands and ponds. Often abundant in the plankton of sewage ponds at all times of the year.


Kingdom Chromista
Phylum Cryptophyta
Class Cryptophyceae
Order Cryptomonadales
Family Cryptomonadaceae
Common name Cryptophytes