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ZingPath: Protists

Importance of Protista

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Lesson Focus

Importance of Protista


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You get to familiarize yourself with a very important group of eukaryotes… the protists. Discover fascinating details about this diverse group, and learn how some species cause great harm while other species provide great benefits.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Summarize the role of protists in maintaining the health of organisms.
  • Summarize the role of protists in maintaining the health of ecosystems. 

Everything You'll Have Covered

What are phytoplankton and how do they produce oxygen?

~ Phytoplankton are microscopic organisms that live in freshwater and salty marine environments. They are the base of the food chains in these environments. They produce oxygen through photosynthesis.

What do many types of algae contain to make them a good food source?

~ Many algal species are edible. Foods like sushi, dulse, and sea lettuce salad are rich in vitamin C and iron, which are both important nutrients for the human body.

How do protists help recycle the basic elements needed in an ecosystem?

~ Fungus-like protists decompose organic materials into inorganic materials. The organic materials are used by the decomposers for energy and the inorganic materials are excreted as waste. This waste is then used by an ecosystem's producers as nutrients so they can then produce food for the consumers in the ecosystem.

How do protists help herbivores obtain more energy from their food?

~ Cellulose-digesting symbiotic protists exist within the digestive tracts of herbivores because herbivores do not have the enzymes needed to digest cellulose, which is a main part of their food.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 2 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts Students should be able to define algae, beneficial protists, and biology.
Course Biology
Type of Tutorial Animation
Key Vocabulary algae, beneficial protists, biology