What Is the Role of Protozoans?

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Protozoans are usually unicellular eukaryotes, and their function can be to consume bacteria, fungi and microinvertebrates. Discover how some protozoans are used as major decomposers with help from a science teacher and field biologist in this free video on biology.

Part of the Video Series: Biology & Organic Chemistry
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Hi, I'm Brian with Ericksontutoring.blogspot.com and today we're going to discuss the role of protozoans. So it's important to understand what a protozoan is before you can discuss its role. protozoan is actually a pretty vague term. It's not a real distinct group, it's an extremely diverse group, actually. What a protozoan usually refers to is a unicellular eukaryote, so that means that they have separate organelles in their cells and all that sort of thing. And usually they're only one cell. But beyond this there's really not a clear distinction of what makes a protozoan. Some of them sort of resemble animals, some of them resemble plants, and others resemble fungi. So, the role, as you may be able to tell from their diverse nature, is also very diverse. Some protozoans eat, or consume, bacteria, fungi and microinvertebrates, so they serve as consumers and predators. They also are major decom, decomposers when things die, so they, they serve ecosystem functions in terms of recycling nutrients and breaking things down. They tend to control bacteria and sort of keep them from getting out of hand and gaining a foothold in some environments. So they're important there. They also serve as food so they get eaten by different microinvertebrates and those sorts of things, so they serve sort of a, one of the functions they serve is passing nutrients from the bacteria and fungus and sorts of things that they eat, and then passing them along to the microinvertebrates and other really small consumers that eat them. In addition, protozoans also transmit some pretty serious diseases to humans and other organisms, so one disease that you may extremely familiar with, hopefully not personally, that results from protozoans, is malaria. Malaria's passed through mosquitoes, but it's really a protozoan that does all the damage. African sleeping sickness is another one that's called by, caused by protozoans. So, this has been a brief discussion of the diverse roles that protozoans play.

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