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Biology LibreTexts

5: The Eukaryotes of Microbiology

  • 5.1: Unicellular Eukaryotic Microorganisms
    Protists are a diverse, polyphyletic group of eukaryotic organisms. Protists may be unicellular or multicellular. They vary in how they get their nutrition, morphology, method of locomotion, and mode of reproduction. Important structures of protists include contractile vacuoles, cilia, flagella, pellicles, and pseudopodia; some lack organelles such as mitochondria.  Taxonomy of protists is changing rapidly as relationships are reassessed using newer techniques.
  • 5.2: Parasitic Helminths
    Helminth parasites are included within the study of microbiology because they are often identified by looking for microscopic eggs and larvae. The two major groups of helminth parasites are the roundworms (Nematoda) and the flatworms (Platyhelminthes). Nematodes are common intestinal parasites often transmitted through undercooked foods, although they are also found in other environments. Platyhelminths include tapeworms and flukes, which are often transmitted through undercooked meat.
  • 5.3: Fungi
    The fungi include diverse saprotrophic eukaryotic organisms with chitin cell walls. Fungi can be unicellular or multicellular; some (like yeast) and fungal spores are microscopic, whereas some are large and conspicuous. Reproductive types are important in distinguishing fungal groups. Medically important species exist in the four fungal groups Zygomycota, Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, and Microsporidia.
  • 5.4: Algae
    Algae are a diverse group of photosynthetic eukaryotic protists Algae may be unicellular or multicellular Large, multicellular algae are called seaweeds but are not plants and lack plant-like tissues and organs Although algae have little pathogenicity, they may be associated with toxic algal blooms that can and aquatic wildlife and contaminate seafood with toxins that cause paralysis.
  • 5.5: Lichens
    Lichens are a symbiotic association between a fungus and an algae or a cyanobacterium. The symbiotic association found in lichens is currently considered to be a controlled parasitism, in which the fungus benefits and the algae or cyanobacterium is harmed. Lichens are slow growing and can live for centuries in a variety of habitats. Lichens are environmentally important, helping to create soil, providing food, and acting as indicators of air pollution.

Thumbnail: Mold growing on a clementine. Image used with permission (CC SA-BY 3.0; NotFromUtrecht).