In the microbial world, bacteria get a lot of attention and now in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, the viruses get too. But besides that, they are creatures getting the attention of researchers. I am talking about the unicellular life forms that include archaea and protists. Protists are not just big bacteria, they are highly neglected eukaryotic forms.
They are single-celled eukaryotic organism that lives in many habitats such as water and soil. No plant, animal or fungus are part of the kingdom. The kingdom includes amoeba, diatoms, and slime molds.
Unicellular Protists Biology explained by MooMooMath and Science:
Some are studied in-depth such as Malaria causing Plasmodium, yet we know little about others and more are being discovered over time.
Of all the bacterial species in the world, for instance, fewer than fifty regularly cause disease. Just fifty. All the rest of the species are either benign or beneficial to humans, as are nearly all protists and even viruses – Rob Dunn
Biological Features of Protists
Talking about their characteristics, they have mitochondria, the organelle known as Power House of Cell. With the exception, some protists living in anoxic conditions (environment lacking oxygen). They do so with the help of hydrogenosome (a modified form of mitochondria). For instance, Trichomonas vaginalis causes trichomoniasis by infecting the human vagina, have hydrogenosome.
Nutrition & Reproduction
They can be photosynthetic or heterotrophs. They reproduce by asexual mechanisms such as binary fission. They also cause amoebic dysentery, malaria and trichomoniasis. A unique protist, brain-eating amoeba Naegelaria floweri. It causes Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM) when contaminated water enters the nose.
These unicellular eukaryotes are of great importance. They require different approaches with greater emphasis. Molecular sequencing will play a key role in getting deep knowledge about them. “If you took all the protists out of the world, the ecosystem would collapse really quickly,” Simpson said.