noun, plural: pseudopods
Pseudopods are temporary cytoplasmic projections of the cell membrane in certain unicellular protists such as amoeba. Pseudopods, also called pseudopodia (singular: pseudopodium), literally means false foot. That is because they are associated with locomotion. Amoeba, for instance, moves in a distinctively crawling-like manner in which the cell forms pseudopods towards the front of the cell. The cytoplasm of an amoeba contains plasmasol surrounded by a more viscous plasmagel. The plasmagel turns into plasmasol causing the cytoplasm to slide and form a pseudopodium in front thereby moving the cell forward. This form of locomotion is referred to as an amoeboid movement.
Apart from locomotion, pseudopods may also be used in capturing prey and feeding. They can sense and engulf prey. An example is phagocytic white blood cells in humans that form and make use of pseudopodia for detecting and engulfing antigens.
According to appearance, pseudopodia may be classified as lobopodia (bulbous), filopodia (slender, thread-like), reticulopodia (a network of pseudopods), and axopodia (thin pseudopods containing complex arrays of microtubules).
Word origin: Greek pseudḗs (false, lying) + Greek podós, from poús (foot, leg)