Protista: The puzzle protruding from curious questions

Ask Siri! Ask Cortana! Ask Iris! But what do you really know about Protozoa? A little wiki reveals a lot of protozoa

Feature Image: http://www.magicalmaths.org/download-free-question-and-answer-images/

Google: The Broad Spectrum

What exactly are protozoa or protozoan? In completing a quick google search asking for the definition, a broad overview or description was produced.

“a single-celled microscopic animal of a group of phyla of the kingdom Protista, such as an amoeba, flagellate, ciliate, or sporozoan”

Wikipedia: More Details…Potentially

However, what exactly is the kingdom of Protista? How do scientists decide to include certain unicellular organisms in Protista as opposed to other kingdoms as bacteria, fungi, plants can all come in unicellular lifeforms?

To answer this question quickly for my own general knowledge, I searched Wikipedia articles for the examples that google gave. For the first example, amoeba, I quickly discovered the question I was pursuing was complex.

“Amoeboid cells occur not only among the protozoa, but also in fungi, algae, and animals.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amoeba

Instead of Amoebae being a simple subcategory of Protista, they are characterised foremost by their similar movement. They are capable of extending “offshoots” of their cell called pseudopodium (see image below).

 

amoeba1

Giant amoeba also called Amoeba proteus, extends its pseudopodium to the right and downwards. (http://www.bms.ed.ac.uk/research/others/smaciver/amoeba.htm)

 

Neutrophil_with_anthrax_copy

Neutrophils are immune cells which have an amoebae life stage allowing them to engulf harmful bacteria and protists via phagocytosis. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amoeba)

Google scholar: Less access leads to some more answers

Following this Wikipedia search, a preliminary understanding of the complexity of Protozoa leads to questions of how scientists research Protozoa. One common field for Protozoa research is waste water treatment. There are a number of varieties of Protozoa which are harmful to human health and thus, knowledge of their removal prior to providing drinking water is important.

By reviewing numerous methods, may lead to the suggestion that researchers choose known Protozoa to study. One study used DAPI staining to visualize Protozoa present in samples containing communities of the microorganisms (1). Another explored samples using epifluorescence microscopy (2). A third study used real-time PCR quantification to study fungal Protozoa DNA (3). These processes would likely require standards or known Protozoa as comparison points.

Conclusion

Through the research process, there are many questions which arise. However, as each method or source is chosen, it should be noted that it is a tool. Tools need to be used respectfully, realizing that each has its limit. Just as it is inappropriate to submit a proposed journal article with references to Wikipedia, it is also necessary to realize both the limits and capabilities of wet lab research. One of the biggest consequences of this type of reflection is to begin to realize the questions which follow: such as “How can protozoa be utilized effectively in biotechnology?”. Then, future research will continue.

“How can protozoa be utilized effectively in biotechnology?”.

  1. Priya, M., Haridas, A. and Manilal, V.B., 2007. Involvement of protozoa in anaerobic wastewater treatment process. Water Research., [online] 41:4639-4645. Available through: <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17632209&gt; [Accessed 4 November 2015].
  2. Priya, M., Haridas, A. and Manilal, V.B., 2008. Anaerobic protozoa and their growth in biomethanation systems. Biodegradation., [online] 19:179-185. Available through: <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17492357&gt; [Accessed 4 November 2015].
  3. Prochazka, J., Mrazek, J., Strosova, L., Fliegerova, K., Zabranska, J. and Dohanyos, M., 2012. Enhanced biogas yield from energy crops with rumen anaerobic fungi. Engineering in Life Sciences, [online] (12)3:343-351 Available through: <http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/elsc.201100076/full&gt; [Accessed 4 November 2015].

Adelle has received her B.Sc. in Integrated Science with Biochemistry. Through her studies, she gained a reputation as an ideas person, an encourager to her peers, and a hard worker. She aims to continue exploring, innovating, and inventing at every opportunity that arises.

 

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