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What is the economic importance of an amoeba?

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Quick Answer

The economic importance of an amoeba is found medically and in nutrient recycling. Various amoeba species sometimes cause illness and death, but others are critical in maintaining healthy ecosystems because they recycle the nutrients used by bacteria and keep the bacteria population in check, says Biology Reference.

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Full Answer

Most of the economic impact of amoebas is secondary, the most obvious being that a few species make humans ill. Many people at some point encounter amoebic dysentery caused by Entamoeba histolytica, reports the Tree of Life Web Project. Rarer cases of amoebic illness are caused by Naegleria fowleri, the organism responsible for amoebic meningitis.

The presence of either of these species in bodies of water causes site closures, negatively effecting commerce from recreation and tourism. Both of these species have the potential to cost quite a bit of money to treat when spread among the public. Amoebic dysentery has a particularly profound economic effect when widespread by rendering large portions of the workforce too ill to be productive.

The economic benefits are harder to measure but every bit as relevant. Amoebas are predators of the microscopic world, keeping the populations of bacteria in check. They are necessary to a healthy ecosystem and for preserving the food chain, and removing them is likely to cause large-scale, cascading economic hardship by harming both, says the Tree of Life Web Project.

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