What Protist Changes Shape Constantly to Engulf Its Food

February 14, 2024

Protists are single-celled eukaryotic organisms that range from microscopic, unicellular algae and slime molds to the giant seaweeds. They form the base of most aquatic ecosystems and serve as a source of food for fish and other creatures. They come in countless colors, sizes and shapes and can be found anywhere water is present. Some protists are beneficial to humans, such as the green algae that grow in our lakes and rivers, while others cause disease. One example is the amoeba that causes entamoebiasis and amebic dysentery in humans and other primates.

Most protists are unicellular but some are multicellular. They can be either autotrophs that make their own food through photosynthesis or heterotrophs that eat other plants and animals for nutrition. The majority of protists are motile and use cilia, flagella or pseudopodia to move through their moist environment. They are also capable of sensing the environment around them.

Some protists engulf their food particles by a process called pinocytosis or phagocytosis. Other protists use a technique called osmocytosis, in which they enclose particles of food within membrane-bounded vesicles. These structures are able to close in on the food particles without crushing them, allowing the nutrient molecules to diffuse into the cell.

Sensing the environment is important for most protists because it allows them to move toward or away from a stimulus such as light. To do this, they have special organelles such as flagella or cilia that beat in a coordinated pattern to move the protists.


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