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Acanthamoeba castellanii Neff (Ac) occupies a significant position as one of the few well-studied members of the free-living amoebae, which play an important role in a variety of terrestrial and aquatic environments. As such, Ac is one of the most commonly found amoebae in soil. From an evolutionary perspective Ac is proposed to be a member of the ancient subphylum Protamoebae. Knowledge of its genome sequence will improve not only the understanding of the origins of the Phylum Amoebozoa but also provide a suitable outgroup for understanding of some of the special features of the other amoebae whose genomes are currently being sequenced, including Dictyostelium discoideum and Entamoeba histolytica. Ac has also been shown to harbor a wide variety of symbionts, a number of which are important intracellular pathogens and bio-defense organisms. It is postulated that Ac not only acts as an environmental reservoir, facilitating survival and dispersal of these organisms, but also induces phenotypic changes leading to increased invasiveness and virulence capabilities in mammalian hosts.
More broadly, the Ac genome sequence will allow for application of functional genomics approaches towards understanding the amoebic lifestyle, adaptation to low oxygen environments, and the balance between the choice of a predator-prey and symbiont relationship between bacteria and amoebae. It will contribute to understanding of lateral gene transfer between amoeboid hosts and their symbionts and provide an important resource in the use of Ac as a model system for studying certain intracellular pathogens and their amoeboid hosts. The genome resources should be of interest to a wide variety of scientific disciplines including soil ecologists, environmental microbiologists, medical microbiologists, scientists studying cell structure and motility in amoebae, protistologists, evolutionary biologists and others studying various aspects of this organism as a human pathogen. The data provided should foster a variety of cross-disciplinary studies including comparison of the various pathogenic and non-pathogenic amoebae, comparison of the relationship between intracellular pathogens with both their protozoan and mammalian hosts, and a broader understanding of the many indirect but important contributions of protozoa to a variety of environments
References for Acanthamoeba castellani
Acanthamoeba white paper for NHGRI.