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PROTISTA Protista are a group of mostly simple organisms called protists which have characteristics of both plants and animals Most protists are unicellular and can only be seen with a microscope although there are some that are composed of more than one cell There are a wide variety of protists and they live in many different environments such as fresh water seawater soils and the intestinal tracts of animals where they perform crucial digestive processes Like plants many species of protists can make their own food by the process of photosynthesis Like animals many protists can move around under their own power Unlike plants and animals however protists do not have cells organized into specialized tissues The protists include such familiar organisms as seaweed amoebas and slime molds The kingdom Protista contains many economically important members including organisms that cause diseases such as malaria Some biologists theorize that members of the kingdom Protista gave rise to the kingdoms Plantae Animalia and Fungi about 600 million years ago All protists are eukaryotes This means that their cells contain a nucleus Although most protists have a single nucleus protists are unique in that some contain multiple nucleiup to ten thousand in a single celland others such as ciliates have two different-sized nuclei in a single cell The DNA of protists is organized in chromosomes within the nucleus When the cell divides these chromosomes duplicate themselves and then divide in mitosis Among some protists the nuclear membrane stays intact during mitosis whereas in plants animals and fungi the nuclear membrane breaks down Protists vary greatly in size and shape The green alga Nanochlorum is only 001 mm 00004 in long Giant kelps can grow to 65 m 210 ft or more in length The architectural complexity of most protist cells is what sets them apart from the cells of plant and animal tissues Not only are protists cells they are also whole complete independent organisms and they
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