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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe representative protist organisms from each of the six presently recognized supergroups of eukaryotes
  • Identify the evolutionary relationships of plants, animals, and fungi within the six presently recognized supergroups of eukaryotes

In the span of several decades, the Kingdom Protista has been disassembled because sequence analyses have revealed new genetic (and therefore evolutionary) relationships among these eukaryotes. Moreover, protists that exhibit similar morphological features may have evolved analogous structures because of similar selective pressures—rather than because of recent common ancestry. This phenomenon, called convergent evolution, is one reason why protist classification is so challenging. The emerging classification scheme groups the entire domain Eukaryota into six “supergroups” that contain all of the protists as well as animals, plants, and fungi that evolved from a common ancestor ( [link] ). The supergroups are believed to be monophyletic, meaning that all organisms within each supergroup are believed to have evolved from a single common ancestor, and thus all members are most closely related to each other than to organisms outside that group. There is still evidence lacking for the monophyly of some groups.

The chart shows the relationship of eukaryotic supergroups, which all arose from a common eukaryotic ancestor. The six groups are Excavata, Chromalveolata, Rhizaria, Archaeplastida, Amoebozoa, and Opisthokonta. Excavata includes the kingdoms diplomonads, parabasalids, and euglenozoans. Chromalveolata includes the kingdoms dinoflagellates, apicomplexans, and ciliates, all within the alveolate lineage, and the diatoms, golden algae, brown algae, and oomycetes, all within the stramenopile lineage. Rhizaria includes cercozoans, forams, and radiolarians. Archaeplastida includes red algae and two kingdoms of green algae, chlorophytes and charophytes, and land plants. Amoebozoa includes slime molds, gymnamoebas, and entamoebas. Opisthokonta includes nucleariids, fungi, choanoflagellates, and animals.
This diagram shows a proposed classification of the domain Eukara. Currently, the domain Eukarya is divided into six supergroups. Within each supergroup are multiple kingdoms. Dotted lines indicate suggested evolutionary relationships that remain under debate.

The classification of eukaryotes is still in flux, and the six supergroups may be modified or replaced by a more appropriate hierarchy as genetic, morphological, and ecological data accumulate. Keep in mind that the classification scheme presented here is just one of several hypotheses, and the true evolutionary relationships are still to be determined. When learning about protists, it is helpful to focus less on the nomenclature and more on the commonalities and differences that define the groups themselves.

Excavata

Many of the protist species classified into the supergroup Excavata are asymmetrical, single-celled organisms with a feeding groove “excavated” from one side. This supergroup includes heterotrophic predators, photosynthetic species, and parasites. Its subgroups are the diplomonads, parabasalids, and euglenozoans.

Diplomonads

Among the Excavata are the diplomonads, which include the intestinal parasite, Giardia lamblia ( [link] ). Until recently, these protists were believed to lack mitochondria. Mitochondrial remnant organelles, called mitosomes , have since been identified in diplomonads, but these mitosomes are essentially nonfunctional. Diplomonads exist in anaerobic environments and use alternative pathways, such as glycolysis, to generate energy. Each diplomonad cell has two identical nuclei and uses several flagella for locomotion.

The micrograph shows Giardia, which is shaped like a corn kernel and about 12 to 15 microns in length. Three whip-like flagella protrude from the middle of the parasite, and a whip-like tail protrudes from the narrow back end.
The mammalian intestinal parasite Giardia lamblia , visualized here using scanning electron microscopy, is a waterborne protist that causes severe diarrhea when ingested. (credit: modification of work by Janice Carr, CDC; scale-bar data from Matt Russell)

Questions & Answers

prove starch in a mango leaf
Ruth Reply
prove starch in a leaf
Ruth
Identify the caste of termites or Honey bees
Mensah Reply
what is biology
Jackson Reply
biology is a study of living organism
Brilliant
what is the myelin sheath?
description on how an enzyme such as pepsin breaks down a substrate
linister Reply
what is biology
Kanzy Reply
study of life
Tufail
the study of life..meaning studying all aspects of life in humans,animals and everything inside the global
Nalukui
study of life
Memory
is the branch of science which deal with the study of living and non living things
David
draw the taxonomic hierarchy of classification
KC Reply
explain the following bush burning, deforestation, over grazing
Thomas Reply
what is biodiversity
Tracy
No idea
nana
Please what are alleles
nana
Deforestation: this is the cutting down of trees without planting new ones
Brilliant
over grazing is the continuously planting of crops in one particular land.
Friday
what is afforestation
Friday
what is physiology
Joseph Reply
the study of physical things
Nalukui
dealing with those things which you can see by your neck eyes
Odwa
Further explanation please
nana
the study of things tt interact with time,energy
David
can a lactating mother get pregnant
Elias Reply
what is cell
Deng Reply
the basic building blocks of all living matter...
Izzati
cell is a basic unit of life
MAI
building blocks ie cells not a cell there4 a cell is the basic unit of biotic things
David
Cell is a basic unit of life
Malekhotla
what's microscope
Emmanuel Reply
is any instrument that use to wiew or to see the small object that you can't see with our naked eye
MR
is any instrument used to magnifie small object
Memory
what is the function of the spinal cord
Gaone Reply
A cell is the structural and fictional unit of life
Evelyn Reply
what is tidal volume
Erick
tidal volume is the volume of each breath measured during inspiration or expiration or averged for the entire respiratory cycle
Gaone
Give function of the long strands of slippery or jelly like substance in eggs of the amphibians in water ?
Erick
the long strands of slippery or jelly like substance him eggs of amphibians in water helps in keeping the eggs moist and protection from predators
Gaone
sorry not him in
Gaone
what's is microscope
Emmanuel
How do bacteria useful?
Bisirikirwa
how can plant feed other animals
Nana Reply
After the animals has death and decayed then the plant used the nutrients to manufacture there food.
Yusuf
Plants and animals depends on each other. Meaning, plants help animals with greens and fruits or vegetables while animals provides nutrients when dead and decayed. Therefore,as you see the food web and food chain, you'll have more.
Jairenaririko

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Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
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