How are plant-like protists different from plants?

yahman said:

How are plantae protists similar and different from plant cells?

The Attempt at a Solution

similarity: both are photosynthetic, and producers, both are paraphylitic

differences: protists are unicellular whereas plants are multicellular, plants are big and complex where as protists are microscopic, more diverse and abundant. some protists could move, plants can't move. there are differences in chlorophyll and cell wall composition, also some protists don't have cell wall. I assume that there are reproductive differences (not very certain what it might be, I only know that they have a life cycle called alteration of generation that maybe slightly different from plants). some protists could be heterotrophic where plants can't be.

* any feedback is appreciated, thanks*

The classification and taxonomy of protists is actually rather complicated and is changing all the time so my textbooks will not be as up to date as the links below.

Wiki states the actual term protist is obsolete

A comparison list below, I would cross reference this with an up to date micro book. (They use the term protist),Plants are primarily autotrophic producers.


The differences between plant cells and plantae protists are:
1. Complexity
Plant cells' nuclear DNA strands are more complicated than protists'. This is because plant cells have the ability to develop into distinct types based on their structure and function thanks to the presence of genes. Plants have the potential to grow into more sophisticated organisms than protists because totipotency promotes the creation of specialized tissues.

In actuality, all plants are multicellular, unlike protozoa. While some protists are unicellular, others reside in colonies of separate cells that interact and work together on activities like feeding and mobility. The protist group only has these colonies. Other protists, like seaweed, are multicellular and can even grow to be quite huge.

2. Nutrition
The main producers are plants, which are autotrophs that make food from inorganic molecules. There aren't any plants that are parasites that depend on other plants for nourishment. Some protists, like algae, are autotrophs that use chloroplasts to perform the photosynthetic process similarly to other protists. Other protists, referred to as heterotrophs or consumers, on the other hand, acquire nutrition in the form of organic molecules.

Several predatory and parasitic species of protists, collectively referred to as "protozoans," prey on bacteria and other protists. Protists have been linked to illnesses in both people and animals. Other protists, such slime molds, which resemble fungi and function as decomposers, are also protists.

3. Respiration
For the process of cellular respiration, oxygen is needed by plants. Protists differ here. While certain protist species are facultative anaerobes, which can break down carbohydrates without the presence of oxygen, some protist species are also aerobes. Even mud and mammalian digestive tracts include obligatory anaerobic protist species. There may be facultative aerobic adaptations in some plant tissues.

4. Movement
Many protists have specific cellular architectures that serve as sensory organs as well as aid in locomotion and eating. Flagella are tail-like organelles that help creatures move in a manner akin to swimming. Cilia are shorter, hair-like structures that are often abundant on the cell membrane's outside. Pseudopodia are cellular extensions that play a sensory role in locating and ingesting food as well as in protist movement.

On the other hand, plants are sedentary forms of life. Tropisms, or movements that only affect a single plant individual's organs, are permitted. While thigmotropism is movement in reaction to a physical stimulation, such the twining of tendrils, phototropism is the movement of plant parts toward sunshine.


When classifying eukaryotic organisms as plants or protists, it is important to note that plants belong to the Kingdom Plantae. Protists do not form a single kingdom because they did not evolve from a common ancestor. In fact, the spectrum of species known as protists are so varied that some have no more in common with one another than they do with plants.[i] To demonstrate this diversity, consider the fact that the nuclear genome sizes in plants vary by a factor of 1000, while the protista genomes differ up to 300,000-fold in size.[ii]


Nuclear DNA strands in plant cells have higher complexity than those in protists. This is because of the presence of genes that give plant cells the ability to differentiate into specific types according to structure and function. Totipotency leads to the formation of specialized tissues, and thus plants can develop into more complex organisms than protists.

In fact, unlike protists, all plants are multicellular. Some protists are unicellular, while some live in colonies of independent cells that communicate and cooperate tasks such as feeding and movement. These colonies are unique to the protist group. Still other protists, such as seaweed, are multicellular and even reach relatively large sizes.[iii]


Plants are primary producers; they are autotrophs that produce food from inorganic molecules. There are no parasitic plants that rely on other plants for nutrients. Some protists, such as algae, are autotrophs that carry out the photosynthetic process in a similar manner, using chloroplasts. However, other protists obtain nutrients in the form of organic molecules and are thus known as heterotrophs or consumers.

A group of protists known as ‘protozoans’ includes several predator and parasite species, which feed on bacteria and other protists. There are some protists known to cause diseases in humans and animals. Still other protists, such as slime molds, are similar to fungi and act as decomposers.


Plants require oxygen for the process of cellular respiration. Here protists differ. While some protists are also aerobes, certain protist species are facultative anaerobes, capable of breaking down carbohydrates without the presence of oxygen. There are even obligate anaerobic protist species found in mud and animal digestive tracts. Some plant tissues may have facultative aerobic adaptations.[iv]


Many protists have specialized cellular structures that assist in movement and feeding and act as sensory organs. Flagella are tail-like structures that serve to propel organisms with a swimming-like motion. Cilia are shorter, hair-like structures, usually found in large quantities on the outside of the cell membrane. Cellular extensions, known as pseudopodia, have a sensory role in finding and engulfing food, as well as moving the protist.

Plants, on the other hand, are stationary life forms. Movements are limited to those of organs in a single plant individual, known as tropisms. Phototropism is the movement of plant parts towards sunlight, while thigmotropism is movement in response to physical stimulus, such as the twining of tendrils.


Gymnosperms and angiosperms form spores and seeds respectively to propagate further plant generations via sexual reproduction. The gametes are transported through pollination. Asexual (vegetative) reproduction is also common in plants such as bulbs and tubers. Onions and potatoes form new offspring by budding, and strawberries develop adventitious roots, known as stolons, which give rise to new plants.[v] Protists can reproduce sexually by meiosis or asexually by simple cell division; plants are unable to reproduce by one mitotic division. While some fungus-like protists produce spores, none produce seeds.


Due to evolutionary adaptations, plants have colonised the dry-land habitats of the world. Charophyta, a phylum of green algae, is the only protist that produces sporopollenin, a water-resistant polymer. Sporangium walls, which protect the plant zygotes inside sporangia from desiccation, contain this sporopollenin compound. Thus Charophyta is believed to be the protista lineage from which land plants evolved. In contrast, protists are highly dependent on the presence of water to ensure survival of the species—much more so than terrestrial plant species.

Why are protists different from plants?

differences: protists are unicellular whereas plants are multicellular, plants are big and complex where as protists are microscopic, more diverse and abundant. some protists could move, plants can't move. there are differences in chlorophyll and cell wall composition, also some protists don't have cell wall.

What three characteristics of plants do plant

Plant-like protists (AKA algae) are usually photosynthetic organisms, and most contain chloroplasts and/or chlorophyll. Algal cells usually have a cell wall which, like the cell walls of true plants, contain cellulose. However, unlike true plants, algae lack leaves, stems, and roots.

How are plant

For example, plant-like protists are devoid of most structures found in plants, such as roots, stems, and leaves. They are either unicellular or multicellular. For example, plant-like protists such as green algae are multicellular and complex, while others such as diatoms are unicellular.

What is unique about plant

Plant-like protists are mainly autotrophs which are capable of making their own food through photosynthesis, but some are both autotrophic and heterotrophic like the Euglena. Their cells contain chloroplasts that contain a green pigment, chlorophyll, to absorb sunlight.