Characteristics of Protists

Olawunmi Omosanya - Sun, 28th April, 2019 @ 14:35: PM

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Academic Questions in Biology

Please check out our Test Your Knowledge page to see all Questions and Answers

Organisms that manufacture their own food through the help of sunlight or chemicals are best referred to as _____.

  • A. autotrophs
  • B. chemosynthetic
  • C. photosynthentic
  • D. chemoautotrophs
  • E. photoautotrophs
  • F. chemoautotrophs

Organisms that begins a food chain and also manufacture their food through photosynthesis are best referred to as _____.

  • A. heterotrophs
  • B. autotrophs
  • C. homotrophs
  • D. producers
  • E. photosynthetic
  • F. chemosynthetic

_____ bones make up the skull.

  1. 10
  2. 12
  3. 15
  4. 20
  5. 22
  6. 25
  7. 30

Chemical digestion of carbohydrate (cooked starch) begins in the _____.

  1. mouth
  2. oesophagus
  3. stomach
  4. small Intestine
  5. large Intestine

Characteristics of Protists:

We know for sure that both plants and animals are living organisms because they fulfill all the basic characteristics necessary for life; These are










We have organisms that are neither plant nor animals, yet are living. In fact, anything that has life must belong to one of the following kingdoms:

Kingdom MONERA (All bacteria and Blue-green algae belong here)
Kingdom FUNGI (All fungi belong here)
Kingdom PLANTAE (All plants belong here)
Kingdom ANIMALIA (All animals belong here)

What are Protists?

Protists are neither plants nor animals nor fungi nor bacteria; they are simply protists. (An organism belonging to kingdom protista is referred to as protists; just as those belonging to kingdom plantae are called plants).

All protists are eukaryotic organisms (being eukaryotic imply that their cell structure has a nucleus bordered by a membrane. They also have organelles in their cytoplasm). Generally, they live in an aquatic or fluidly or moist habitat. All protists do not share similar characteristics since some are animal-like (they have animal like features, for instance, their cells have a cell membrane and mitochondria) while some behave like plants because they have cell wall and chloroplast, and as a result, can manufacture their own food. A few protists are fungi-like because these reproduce by forming spores.

Generally, all protists are commonly grouped together because they do not particularly fit into any other kingdom. Examples of protists includes amoeba, paramecium, euglena, chlamydomonas, plasmodium, kelp, slime molds and water molds.

Note: Some protists are single celled (unicellular) while others are colonial (form colonies) or multicellular (made up of more than one cell). Some appear to be very large, for instance kelp while others can be free-living (for example, amoeba) or parasitic (for example, plasmodium).

Image Credit: SlideServe


Characteristics of Protists



This is the ability of an organism to move from one point to another. Although some protists are non-motile (cannot move from one point to another), others exhibit locomotion via a variety of locomotary organelles.

Below are some protists and their locomotary organelles;

  • Amoeba --> Pseudopodia
  • Paramecium -->  Cilia
  • Euglena --> Flagella
  • Chlamydomonas --> Flagella

Example of non-motile protist are plasmodium and Toxoplasma gondii.                                                                                                               

Note: slime mold and water mold are protists that exhibit little movement. 



Some are photosynthetic autotrophs (that is, they can manufacture food from sunlight energy). Examples are euglena and algae.
Some are heterotrophic (that is, they cannot produce their own food and hence rely on readymade food). Examples are amoeba and paramecium.

Note: Some protist are both autotrophic and heterotrophic. Euglena is an example.


Cell Structure

Most are unicellular. Amoeba, paramecium, euglena, chlamydomonas and  plasmodium are examples of unicelluler protist.

A few protist are multicellular, for example kelp, slime molds and algae. 



Reproduction is typically asexual but sometimes, sexual reproduction does occur. Binary fission is a form of asexual reproduction that occurs in Amoeba. Plasmodium falciparum may undergo sexual reproduction at some stages in it's life cycle.



They generally live in an aquatic habitat.


They are Eukaryotic organisms 

Their cells have a well defined nucleus and cell membrane.

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Amazing facts in Biology

All voluntary and concious activity of right handed people are controlled from the left part or hemisphere of the brain

A snail can actually sleep for 3 years 😁


A food Chain is a diagram that shows the relationship between plants and animals within a habitat on the basis of how they rely on each other for food.

Note: Habitat is a place where an organism live. It is of three types:

  • Terrestrial (Land)
  • Aquatic (Water)
  • Arboreal (🌲 Treetops)

You can read on Food Chain here

The term Biology originated from two Greek words. They are:

  • Bios: means life. 
  • Logos: means knowledge or to study.

Biology can therefore be defined is the study of life

Anything that has life is generally considered as a living organism (or organism) 🌱🐐🐓. All living organisms must be able to carry the following activities:

  1. Movement
  2. Respiration
  3. Nutrition
  4. Irritability or Sensitivity
  5. Growth
  6. Excretion
  7. Reproduction
  8. Death
  9. Adaptation
  10. Competition

The above listed points are often regarded as the basic characteristics of life. You can memorize them using the acronym (MR. NIGER DAC).

You can read on the introduction to Biology and the basic characteristics of life here