any member of the evenly ciliated protozoan order Hymenostomatida. Included in this order are the genus Paramecium, often used in laboratory studies, and the even more widely studied genus Tetrahymena, which can be easily cultured for biochemical and physiological research. The hymenostomes are characterized by a ventral mouth cavity, which is lined by three membranelles of fused cilia on one side and by an undulating membrane on the other side. In the genus Pleuronema the membrane is greatly enlarged to form a saclike food scoop. The order also contains parasites, such as the genus Ichthyophthirius, which attacks the skin of freshwater and aquarium fishes. The numerous, mostly marine species now known as the scuticociliates are classified here as well.
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