Protista: Everything That’s Not Something Else...

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 24 April 2019



Protista: Everything That’s Not Something Else...

Protista In the Tree of Micro Life
 Two-empire system tree. Six Kingdoms of living things tree. Phylogenetic tree of life. Symbiogenetic evolution of eukaryotes, Maulucioni y Doridí, Wiki.
Pastel pencils drawing of: Two-empire system tree. Six Kingdoms of living things tree. Phylogenetic tree of life. Symbiogenetic evolution of eukaryotes. By Maulucioni y Doridí, Wiki.

Study Reveals Vast Diversity of Ocean Microbes,
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, April 24, 2019.


Study of Protista

“Protista,” The Big Catch-All for Microscopic Life

Protista; "...any eukaryote that is not an animal, (land) plant, or (true) fungus" Wiki.

Little Understood
“Advanced molecular techniques have revealed the diversity of a little-understood group of ocean microbes called protists.”

Ecosystem in Every Drop
"Every drop of seawater contains microbial ecosystems we know very little about, and it is urgently important to understand this fundamental ecosystem of our ocean planet, Earth, and how it reacts to change."

“This sailing voyage sampled the global ocean between 2009 and 2013, taking a snapshot of the microbial communities thriving around the world and capturing the incredible variability of planktonic life.”

Variety of Protista Life
 red algae (Chondrus crispus); brown algae (Giant Kelp); ciliate (Frontonia); golden algae (Dinobryon); Foraminifera (Radiolaria); parasitic flagellate (Giardia muris); pathogenic amoeba (Acanthamoeba); amoebozoan slime mold (Fuligo septica, group credit, Wiki.
Clockwise from top left: red algae (Chondrus crispus); brown algae (Giant Kelp); ciliate (Frontonia); golden algae (Dinobryon); Foraminifera (Radiolaria); parasitic flagellate (Giardia muris); pathogenic amoeba (Acanthamoeba); amoebozoan slime mold (Fuligo septica, group credit, Wiki. (Malaria is also a Protista)

Protists Genomics
”...documented over 900 single cell genomes, which scientists around the world will be able to reference when identifying protists in the future.”

"Although they are much less abundant than bacteria, we are finding that examining protists reveals much more complexity within marine ecosystems."

Light into Microscopic Darkness
"We are starting to unveil the full extent of the diversity and ecological roles of these fascinating components of marine ecosystems."



Bottom Lines

Macro and Mico Worlds of Wonder

Our World Between, “Universes”
Humans’ world exist between two, “universes,” one that could be said to be vast and external to our planet, the other microscopic and internal. The expansive grand physical and multi-billion year time scales of our partially-known celestial universe surrounding us, is our most amazing external universe. But that’s not everything.

Closer to home, on our planet itself there exists a universe in microscopic scale, where whole ecosystems of a wide variety of single-celled life exists within a single drop of seawater.
This micro-life itself constitutes both a beachhead onto the shores of life itself, and collectively creates these mini-ecosystems that are the fundamental foundation supporting the, “bigger,” ecosystems building off of their microscopic ecosystem foundations.
These are the microscopic foundations that ultimately support all of the life on this planet. So, we humans are in a position where we can now actually understand that we are looking out into the eternity of our external universe, while at the same time we can look at and into drops of living water, understanding we are seeing the microscopic roots of life within, all existing within that single drop of seawater dripping off our hand.

Root & Branch Glances
We can understand that we are seeing most of all time and space while looking out into the universe on a good, dark night, while at the same time we can see back down into the roots of life on this planet, in a single drop of seawater. We have a fine position to observe our internal and external universes from, and we are improving our view and observing more all the time.

Into the Darkness Big
Expansively, we humans have just recently seen that there’s lots of, “dark matter,” all around us in the universe that we did not expect to find, and that each of the universe’s galaxies contain supermassive black holes at their centers, which we also did not expect to find. Surprise!

Into the Darkness Small
Microscopically, we have known about the existence of, “ecosystems in every drop,” of water for quite some time, since the invention of the microscope, while knowing almost nothing about how these tiny ecosystems operate. It is good to see our explorations into the microscopic universe expanding.

Human Refinement
As with finding dark matter and black holes in the universe around us, the more closely we observe the macro and micro realities around us, the more we find our previous assumptions and explanations of the composition, nature, and behavior of the universe and our terrestrial ecosystems challenged, as our errors in observation and our subsequent distortions of analysis are exposed, and rectified.

Stuck In the Middle with You
Our, “known,” human-centric world, being the world around us, composed of the scale, perception, and timing of our human lives, along with our associated climate and ecosystems, are all literally stuck between the expansive, massive, ‘external,’ physical scale and long time frame of the universe around us on one side, and the microscopically quick, microbiological, “universe,” of tiny life that exists and rapidly plays out its tiny but vital role at a much smaller scale and rapider pace than we, all happening, “internally,” within every drop of sea water on our ocean planet.

And here we are observing both, from our unique position, with our unique perspective, in this balance between universes micro and macro.

Happy Trails!





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 protista, single celled, multi celled, microbes, study, classifications


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