Installation 3: the continuation of the series of essays I wrote back in AP Bio, this one about protists... again, I don't think this was the prompt, but my way's more fun.
Malaria, Giardia, African sleeping sickness. These three VERY SERIOUS diseases are all caused by – you guessed it – Protists; the first eukaryotes. They are single-celled organisms with a nucleus, and a very complex endomembrane system. Complex enough to take over the world, perhaps? That’s up to you to decide.
Protists have been around for 2.1 billion years – definitely long enough to plot the apocalypse for all other plant and animal species on earth. They evolved from prokaryotes enfolding the plasma membrane of another prokaryote – effectively enslaving it to the whims of the new, mightier protist. A similar method is suggested to be the cause of mitochondria and chloroplasts – a prokaryote takes in an ATP-producing and/or a photosynthesis-doing neighbor, so that it can steal that energy for it’s own use. Because they must do all metabolic processes in a single cell, they are the most elaborate of all cells. A single protist cell is as complete as is an entire human being – or an entire blue whale, the largest creature on earth. So is it possible that they are complex enough to be intelligent?
There are three kinds of protists: Protozoa, which ingest food; absorptive protists; and photosynthetic protists, algae. Some protists are even more cunning than expected – they are able to do both photosynthesis and ingest food from their surrounding environments. Beware of these protists – they may be craftier than we might expect!
Pay close attention especially to the protists on the FBI’s most wanted list. The most wanted protist is the paramecium, which moves around by means of cilia, or tiny hair-like things on the outside of the cell, and which feeds mainly on bacteria. It also has a vicious and strategic method of ingesting said bacteria; it has an oval groove on its side, which is lined with cilia, which draw food into the cell to be engulfed by phagocytosis. It has a system in which it ingests food, digests it, and passes the waste out a hole on its side. It also has a contracting vacuole, which continuously fills with water, which enters from the hypotonic surrounding solution by osmosis that periodically expels it through the cell membrane by contractions of the surrounding cytoplasm.
The amoeba is the next most wanted protist. It is a rhizopod, which means that pseudopodia bulges from virtually anywhere on the cell surface and the interior cytoplasm of the cell moves with it. It uses this method to sneakily catch it’s prey unawares, so it can cruelly engage in phagocytosis. Some amoebas are known to live inside a protective protein shell. Amoebas are everywhere – in both freshwater and marine environments, as well as soil. The evilest of all Amoebas is Antamoeba histolytica, which causes amoebic dysentery in humans. This amoeba is wanted especially for biological warfare.
Eulegena, the next most wanted protist, is easily identifiable by an anterior pocket from which one or two flagella emerge. It has an eyespot that can sense light of preferable intensity, so that it can move towards only it’s specific target. It does photosynthesis as well as consumption of food, so it can really survive in any environment. Be forewarned – this protist is not to be trifled with! It is extremely focused and is not easily deterred.
A more commonly feared protist is plasmodium, the sporzoan parasite that causes malaria. It is reported to be extremely evasive – it can continuously change it’s surface proteins so that it’s not easily identifiable, and it tends to hide from the host’s immune system – in the human liver and blood cells. This protist is responsible for enlisting the help of our planet’s mosquitoes in the protists’ plan to take over the world, as the mosquitoes pass this parasite from host to host.
There is a large group of protists which are generally not to be trusted. While algae may appear nice and sweet when it politely declines your offers of food, it actually is psychically gathering information about you so that you can be more easily brainwashed. This is a theory suggested by me when I discovered that the entire group of algae is photosynthetic, so that they don’t need to rely on food sources aside from light.
A major note of caution: Protists are everywhere! They are in the water! Humans are 80% water! They have rigged evolution so they can TAKE US OVER! An army of organisms that can fit entire colonies on the head of a pin will do us in! THERE IS NO ESCAPE! Take your malaria pills! Boil your water! BOIL YOURSELF! It is the only escape!