A protist can have one cell, or they can have multiple cells, meaning they can be unicellular or multicellular organisms.

Most of the protists live in moist areas and they are more like plants, animals, or fungi than any other group.


Protists contain one or many cells and they have eukaryotic cells or cells that have a nucleus and contain DNA.

Different protists do different things and they are different in the way that they get food, the way that they move, the number of cells they have, and more.

Protists sometimes reproduce asexually, which means that they produce offspring that are exactly like them, or sexually, where they produce offspring that are different than them with the same traits.

Evolution of Protists

Some scientists believe that all protists started at as single-celled organisms and that they evolved over time.

Protists can be similar to plants and these types of protists have cell walls and they also contain chlorophyll. These types of protists can make their own food.

Plant Like Protists

A plant-like protist example is algae. Algae has chlorophyll and it produces oxygen and makes its own food from photosynthesis. Some of this alga is seaweed and kelp.

Animal Like Protists

Animal-like protists are grouped according to how they move. One example of this is dinoflagellates.
This type of protists is long and thin and uses tiny whip-like features to move. These animal-like protists have two flagellum that are like arms.

Ciliates are protists that are covered with cilia, or tiny hairs and the hairs are on the outside of the cell membrane.
These hairs help the protist move in any direction. This type of protist is called a paramecium and has two nucli.

These types of protists are found in water and eat bacteria.

Pseudopods are another type of protist and they move because they have an area that comes off their body that works like a foot.

Fungi Like Protists

Protozoans are also similar to animals, they are unicellular, meaning they have only one cell and they live in water, soil, and places where decomposition happened.

The protists that are like fungi have similar characteristics of both fungi and protists.

Facts About Protists:

  • Protists use different things to help them move.
  • Protists gather energy in different ways, some digested food outside of their bodies while some eat food.
  • Some slime molds are single-celled protists that can grow really large.
  • Some protists are pathogens, meaning they cause diseases inside of humans.
  • Malaria was caused by a protist.

What Did You Learn?

  • What is an organism that is single-celled or multi-celled and has nucleus and DNA and is similar to plants, animals and fungi? The protists have single or multiple cells, DNA, a nucleus and can have similar characteristics to fungi, plants and animals.
  • What is different between a protist and a fungus? A protist can move and can make its own food while fungus cannot.
  • How do protists reproduce? Protists reproduce asexually or sexually.
  • When something reproduces asexually what does that mean? Asexual reproduction means that the offspring looks identical to the parent.
  • Can protists be dangerous? Yes, some protists are pathogens that cause people to get diseases.