What is a ‘protozoa’?
Protozoa are unicellular organisms which are present as free living or else as parasitic organisms in another living system. There are several types of protozoa that have been identified and among them, sporazoa, flagellated protozoa, ciliated protozoa and amoeba would be the most common.
What are ‘flagellated protozoa’?
But, among all these categories, the flagellated protozoa could be the most common and the distinction of this type of protozoa can be done through the presence of a elongated whip like structure that arise within the cellular structure. In many living organisms, the flagella would be present during one point in time, but in the case of flagellated protozoa, it would be a characteristic and vital feature that is part of its functional adaptations.
What is the structure and function of a flagellum?
The structure of flagella consists of nine paired microtubules that are arranged in a cylindrical manner around a single set of microtubules in the middle. These paired microtubules are interlinked with protein structures and therefore is able to influence one another in performing its function. Due to such interconnectivity, the organism is able to move the flagellum in a way that it can propel the organism to move forward in a suitable medium. At the same time, due to its unique arrangement, it is possible for these organisms to bend and extend the cell structure to make motions even without the flagellum as appropriate.
Apart from the kinetic function that it perform, the flagellum would also support the movements of nutritional elements to different parts of the cell or else will facilitate the influx of nutrients from the surrounding environment.
What are the implications of flagellated protozoa in humans?
Among these flagellated protozoa, there are many organisms which cause diseases among human beings. Among these diseases, Leishmania caused by leishmaniasis and vaginal infections caused by Trichomonas vaginalis are two relatively common disease conditions. Apart from these, gastro intestinal disturbances are also associated with these types of organisms in certain parts of the world.
What is a ‘cilia’?
Another term that is used to describe a similar structure in protozoa is the term ‘cilia’. These structures are almost the same as a flagellum but, can be described as a shorter version. As with flagella, the function of these elements would also be movement and this is done through a wavy motion that is produced by rhythmically moving the cilia from side to side.
What is a ‘undulipodium’?
In certain instances, a flagellum can also be described as an ‘undulipodium’ but, both these refer basically to the same structure.