What Are Protists?
Protists are organisms with eukaryotic cells (containing nuclei) and no specialized tissues. They are generally single-celled, but some protists are more complex. They live in water, often in aquatic environments. Some are significant pathogens, while others are important to the health of an ecosystem. Phytoplankton, many kinds of algae and kelp are all protists. Sois the organism responsible for malaria.
Protists are incredibly diverse, and different types have different methods of getting food. Many protists can photosynthesize, using sunlight to convert carbon to sugar for energy. Others engulf particles of organic matter or bacteria, creating a pocket called a vacuole where the food is digested inside the cell of the protist. Some types of protists do both, photosynthesizing when light is available and living off organic material when in a dark or low light environment.
Protists are important to the study of evolution and diversity. They represent an intermediate step between basic cells and the many forms of life present on the planet today. Although they are mostly microscopic, they are a significant part of most ecosystems.