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How are protists classified?

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Protists are members of the Protista kingdom. The three main classifications or protist phyla are protozoa, algae and slime mold. These protist types also generate movement in different ways, such as through cilia, flagella and pseudopodia.

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Protists are diverse types of eukaryotic organisms that can have animal-like, plant-like and fungi-like cell membranes. Protozoa, the animal-like protist group, are unicellular. Some examples of protozoa are amoebas and paramecia. Amoebas move through pseudopodia that are false feet or appendages. Amoebas eat by engulfing their prey, which are typically small bacteria and algae. Paramecia are ciliated protozoa that have hair-like structures for movement.

Algae are plant-like organisms that use photosynthesis to make their food. The different phyla of algae include diatoms, dinoflagellates, euglenophytes and chlorophytes. A type of chlorophyte is green algae. Other types of algae are brown and red algae. Euglena are protists that have whip-like flagella. Protozoa live typically in water and soil environments. Some of these organisms, such as Entamoeba histolytica and Giardia lamblia, can cause disease.

Slime molds are fungi-like protists. The two different types of slime molds are cellular and plasmodial. While cellular mold is a unicellular protist, a plasmodial mold consists of a large cell that can extend a few feet in width.

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