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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the main characteristics of protists
  • Describe important pathogenic species of protists
  • Describe the roles of protists as food sources and as decomposers
Part a is a light micrograph of a round, transparent single-celled organism with long thin spines. Part b is a light micrograph of an oval, transparent organism with ridges running along its length. The nucleus is visible as a large, round sphere. Cilia extend from the surface of the organism. Part c is an underwater photo of a kelp forest growing from the seabed.
Protists range from the microscopic, single-celled (a) Acanthocystis turfacea and the (b) ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila to the enormous, multicellular (c) kelps (Chromalveolata) that extend for hundreds of feet in underwater “forests.” (credit a: modification of work by Yuiuji Tsukii; credit b: modification of work by Richard Robinson, Public Library of Science; credit c: modification of work by Kip Evans, NOAA; scale-bar data from Matt Russell)

Eukaryotic organisms that did not fit the criteria for the kingdoms Animalia, Fungi, or Plantae historically were called protists and were classified into the kingdom Protista. Protists include the single-celled eukaryotes living in pond water ( [link] ), although protist species live in a variety of other aquatic and terrestrial environments, and occupy many different niches. Not all protists are microscopic and single-celled; there exist some very large multicellular species, such as the kelps. During the past two decades, the field of molecular genetics has demonstrated that some protists are more related to animals, plants, or fungi than they are to other protists. For this reason, protist lineages originally classified into the kingdom Protista have been reassigned into new kingdoms or other existing kingdoms. The evolutionary lineages of the protists continue to be examined and debated. In the meantime, the term “protist” still is used informally to describe this tremendously diverse group of eukaryotes. As a collective group, protists display an astounding diversity of morphologies, physiologies, and ecologies.

Characteristics of protists

There are over 100,000 described living species of protists, and it is unclear how many undescribed species may exist. Since many protists live in symbiotic relationships with other organisms and these relationships are often species specific, there is a huge potential for undescribed protist diversity that matches the diversity of the hosts. As the catchall term for eukaryotic organisms that are not animals, plants, fungi, or any single phylogenetically related group, it is not surprising that few characteristics are common to all protists.

Nearly all protists exist in some type of aquatic environment, including freshwater and marine environments, damp soil, and even snow. Several protist species are parasites that infect animals or plants. A parasite is an organism that lives on or in another organism and feeds on it, often without killing it. A few protist species live on dead organisms or their wastes, and contribute to their decay.

Protist structure

The cells of protists are among the most elaborate of all cells. Most protists are microscopic and unicellular, but some true multicellular forms exist. A few protists live as colonies that behave in some ways as a group of free-living cells and in other ways as a multicellular organism. Still other protists are composed of enormous, multinucleate, single cells that look like amorphous blobs of slime or, in other cases, like ferns. In fact, many protist cells are multinucleated; in some species, the nuclei are different sizes and have distinct roles in protist cell function.

Questions & Answers

how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
Maciej
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
s.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
Virgil
is Bucky paper clear?
CYNTHIA
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Harper
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
s.
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
SUYASH Reply
for screen printed electrodes ?
SUYASH
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
Ebrahim
or in general
Ebrahim
in general
s.
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
tahir
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
Cied
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
China
Cied
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
Porter
many many of nanotubes
Porter
what is the k.e before it land
Yasmin
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
Cesar
I'm interested in nanotube
Uday
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
AMJAD
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
AMJAD
what is system testing
AMJAD
what is the application of nanotechnology?
Stotaw
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
Azam
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
Prasenjit
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
Azam
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
Prasenjit
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
Damian
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
Damian
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
Azam
Hello
Uday
I'm interested in Nanotube
Uday
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
Prasenjit
can nanotechnology change the direction of the face of the world
Prasenjit Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Mueller Reply
in a comparison of the stages of meiosis to the stage of mitosis, which stages are unique to meiosis and which stages have the same event in botg meiosis and mitosis
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Source:  OpenStax, Concepts in biology (biology 1060 tri-c). OpenStax CNX. Jan 15, 2014 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11617/1.1
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