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5.1: Learning Objectives

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    Learning Objectives

    After this lab you should be able to:

    1. Observe specimens and recognize characteristics that identify them as Protists.
    2. Examine the diversity in single-celled Eukaryotic organisms.
    3. Relate the structure, function, and life cycles of the organisms to their ability to cause disease.

    "Algae tend to be outliers in the world of microbiology; but are critical foundations for food chains in aquatic and marine habitats, produce the majority of recycled oxygen in the atmosphere (ahhh... breathing) and were instrumental in establishing an ozone layer that permitted terrestrial evolution, and are responsible for agar - the main substrate used in microbiology labs. These significant contributions and lesser ones as ingredients in ice cream and cake frosting make algae a fascinating microbiological study." - Prof. Don Takeda

    Algae are protists that are photosynthetic. These can be microscopic single-celled or colonial organisms, like the Volvox above or can be very large organisms like kelp. In this lab you will observe a protist survey that will contain algae and protozoa (the more “animal-like” protists). Most algae are not clinically important, but many produce toxins that can be very serious and cause disease in humans and other animals.


    Protists of Clinical Importance

    Many protozoa are clinically important and may cause serious disease in animals. In this lab you will observe different protist pathogens, including the protist that causes the disease Malaria. Malaria is one of the most important pathogens, causing serious illness in millions severalof people each year.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

    • “Malaria parasites are micro-organisms that belong to the genus Plasmodium. There are more than 100 species of Plasmodium, which can infect many animal species such as reptiles, birds, and various mammals. Four species of Plasmodium have long been recognized to infect humans in nature.”
    • “An experienced laboratory technician or pathologist can distinguish between P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. malariae, and P. ovale based on the appearance of the parasites and infected blood cells. Under the microscope, P. knowlesi can resemble either P. falciparum or P. malariae. Increasingly reference diagnostic tools like PCR are employed to confirm malaria infection and to determine definitively which species are involved.”
    • “Five times, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded for work associated with malaria: to Sir Ronald Ross (1902), Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran (1907), Julius Wagner-Jauregg (1927), Paul Hermann Müller (1948), and Youyou Tu (2015).”

    Contributors and Attributions

    5.1: Learning Objectives is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Kelly C. Burke.