Type of instruction




Part of degree program


Recommended in

Semesters 1-4

Typically offered in

Autumn/Spring semester

Course description

1. What are protists? Different concepts in terms of organization level, clade and taxon. Significance of protists (as foodweb components, symbionts, pathogens, opportunistic pathogens, research tools, role in biostratigraphy). Biodiversity, biogeography, habitats, planktonic and benthic communities.

2. The protist cell: universal and special organells (mitochondrium and derivatives: hydrogenosomes, mitosomes; extrusomes, glycosomes, etc.) Their occurrence, structure, function, evolutionary significance.

3. The endosymbiont theory, serial endosymbiosis, primary, secondary symbiogenesis, evolution of protists. Protist taxonomy: macrotaxonomy: new aspects and trends; the paraphyletic kingdom Protozoa; recognised protist clades.

4. Unicellular organisms in kingdoms different from Protozoa: Myxozoa, Microsporidia, Opalinata.

5. Comparative morphology and physiology of protists I.: motility, ingestion, digestion and defecation, aerobic and anaerobic metabolism, osmoregulation.

6. Comparative morphology and physiology of protists II.: reproduction, morphogenesis, behaviour.

7. Members of the opisthokont clade; phylum Choanozoa. Anterokont protists. Phylum Amoebozoa (subphylum Lobosa: morphological types and examples of naked amoebae, significance of Acanthamoeba spp., Testacealobosia: most important genera. Subphylum Conosa: Entamoebidae (cytological and pathogenic importance), Pelobiontids (cellular morphology and ecology).

8. Phylum Cercozoa (Reticulofilosa, Monadofilosa, Endomyxa), phylogenetic and taxonomic significance. Phylum Retaria (Foraminifera and Radiolaria), life histories, distribution, role in biostratigraphy paleoclimatology. Phylum Heliozoa.

9. Discicristate clade: phylum Percolozoa (Naegleria spp., etc.), phylum Euglenozoa (autotrophic and heterotrophic species, euglenoids and kinetoplastids). Structure, function and role of the kinetoplast.

10. Phylum Euglenozoa (Trypanosomatida, introducing human, animal and phytopathogenic species). Morphogenetic and metabolic alterations related to transmission between hosts. Role of special organells.

11. Phylum Metamonada (Eophyrangia: Diplozoa, Enteromonadia, Retortamonadea; Parabasalia: Trichomonada, Hypermastigea; Anaeromonada; subphylum: Oxymonadida).

12. Alveolate clade: phylum Miozoa: Dinozoa subphylum (auto-, heterotrophic and mixotrophic species, different levels of symbiogenesis, significance of heterotrophic species, Noctiluca; Pfiesteria: life cycle and economic and medical importance; endoparasites).

13. Subphylum Sporozoa (Apicomplexa) and schematic life cycle; structure and function of the apical complex; extracellular and cellular parasites; most important human and animal pathogens; malaria, problems related to development of vaccine.

14. Phylum Ciliophora (morphology, ciliature and infraciliature, stomatogenesis; importance in natural ecosystems; ciliates as saprobiological indicators, role in biological wastewater treatment).

  • K. Hausmann, N. Hülsmann, R. Radek (2003): Protistology. 3rd ed. Schweitzerbart'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart

  • Journals: Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology; European Journal of Protistology; Protist; Acta Protozoologica; Protistology