Definitions

organism

protist

[proh-tist]

Any member of a kingdom (Protista) of diverse eukaryotes, including algae, protozoans, and lower fungi (see fungus). Most are single-celled organisms, though the algae tend to be multicellular. Many can move, mainly by using flagella (see flagellum), cilia (see cilium), or footlike extensions (pseudopodia). The kingdom was developed to accommodate intermediate organisms that, even though they possessed some plant or animal characteristics, did not exhibit the specialized features indicative of those groups. Some protists are considered the ancestors of multicellular plants, animals, and fungi. The term was first suggested in 1866 by Ernst Haeckel. With the development of advanced biochemical, genetic, and imaging techniques, previously established relationships have come under scrutiny, and it is now thought that some groups are less closely related to one another than once believed. As a result, the classification of protists, while convenient, is no longer entirely satisfactory.

Learn more about protist with a free trial on Britannica.com.

A pest is an organism which has characteristics that are regarded by humans as injurious or unwanted. This is most often because it causes damage to agriculture through feeding on crops or parasitising livestock, such as codling moth on apples, or boll weevil on cotton. An animal can also be a pest when it causes damage to a wild ecosystem or carries germs within human habitats. Examples of these include those organisms which vector human disease, such as rats and fleas which carry the plague disease, or mosquitoes which vector malaria.

The term pest may be used to refer specifically to harmful animals but is also often taken to mean all harmful organisms including fungi and viruses. Pesticides are chemicals that are used to control or protect other organisms from pests.

It is possible for an animal to be a pest in one setting but beneficial or domesticated in another (for example, European rabbits introduced to Australia caused ecological damage beyond the scale they inflicted in their natural habitat). Many weeds are also seen as useful under certain conditions, for instance Patterson's curse is often valued as food for honeybees and as a wildflower, even though it can poison livestock.

The concept of a pest is anthropogenic, based on human purposes and perceptions.

Related is pestilence, which is any highly-infectious (epidemic) disease.

See also

Search another word or see organismon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature
FAVORITES
RECENT

;