Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: proto-

Amoeba Protozoan
Amoeba Protozoan Feeding. Credit: Science Photo Library-Eric Grave/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: proto-


The prefix (proto-) means before, primary, first, primitive, or original. It is derived from the Greek prôtos meaning first.


Protoblast (proto-blast) - a cell in the early stages of development that differentiates to form an organ or part. Also called a blastomere.

Protobiology (proto-biology) - relating to the study of primitive, minute life forms such as bacteriophages.

Protoderm (proto-derm) - the outer, most primary meristem that forms the epidermis of plant roots and shoots.

Protofibril (proto-fibril) - the initial elongated group of cells that form in the development of a fiber.

Protolith (proto-lith) - the original state of a rock prior to metamorphism.

Protonema (proto-nema) - an initial stage in the development of mosses and liverworts that is observed as a filamentous growth, which develops after spore germination.

Protopathic (proto-pathic) - relating to sensing stimuli, such as pain, heat, and pressure in a nonspecific, poorly localized manner. This is thought to be done by a primitive type of peripheral nervous system tissue.

Protophloem (proto-phloem) - narrow cells in phloem (plant vascular tissue) that are formed first during tissue growth.

Protoplasm (proto-plasm) - the fluid content of a cell inclusive of the cytoplasm and the nucleoplasm (located within the nucleus).

Protoplast (proto-plast) - the primary living unit of a cell consisting of the cell membrane and all of the content within the cell membrane.

Protostome (proto-stome) - an invertebrate animal in which the mouth develops before the anus in the embryonic stage of its development.

Prototroph (proto-troph) - an organism that can acquire nourishment from inorganic sources.

Protozoa (proto-zoa) - tiny unicellular protist organisms, whose name means first animals, that are motile and capable of ingesting food substances. Examples of protozoa include amoebas, flagellates and ciliates.

Protozoology (proto-zoo-logy) - The biological study of protozoans, particularly those that cause disease.