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Protistology is a scientific discipline devoted to the study of protists, a highly diverse group of eukaryotic organisms. All eukaryotes apart from animals, plants and fungi are considered protists.[1] Its field of study therefore overlaps with the more traditional disciplines of phycology, mycology, and protozoology, just as protists embrace mostly unicellular organisms described as algae, some organisms regarded previously as primitive fungi, and protozoa ("animal" motile protists lacking chloroplasts).[1]

They are a paraphyletic group with very diverse morphologies and lifestyles. Their sizes range from unicellular picoeukaryotes only a few micrometres in diameter to multicellular marine algae several metres long.[1]


The history of the study of protists has its origins in the 17th century. Since the beginning, the study of protists has been intimately linked to developments in microscopy, which have allowed important advances in the understanding of these organisms due to their generally microscopic nature. Among the pioneers was Anton van Leeuwenhoek, who observed a variety of free-living protists and in 1674 named them “very little animalcules”.[2]

During the 18th century studies on the Infusoria were dominated by Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg and Félix Dujardin.[3]

The term "protozoology" has become dated as understanding of the evolutionary relationships of the eukaryotes has improved, and is frequently replaced by the term "protistology". For example, the Society of Protozoologists, founded in 1947, was renamed International Society of Protistologists in 2005. However, the older term is retained in some cases (e.g., the Polish journal Acta Protozoologica).[4]

Journals and societies

Dedicated academic journals include:[5]

Other less specialized journals, important to protistology before the appearance of the more specialized:

Some societies:

Notable protistologists (sorted by alphabetical order of surnames)

The field of protistology was idealized by Haeckel, but its widespread recognition is more recent. In fact, many of the researchers cited below considered themselves as protozoologists, phycologists, mycologists, microbiologists, microscopists, parasitologists, limnologists, biologists, naturalists, zoologists, botanists, etc., but made significant contributions to the field.


  1. ^ a b c Geisen, Stefan; Mitchell, Edward A D; Adl, Sina; authors, and 10 further (2018). "Soil protists: a fertile frontier in soil biology research". FEMS Microbiology Reviews. 42 (3): 293–323. doi:10.1093/femsre/fuy006. PMID 29447350. Retrieved 25 December 2020.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Barry S. C. Leadbeater; Sharon M. M. McReady (2000). "Chapter 1. The flagellates: historical perspectives". In Barry S. C. Leadbeater; J. C. Green (eds.). The Flagellates. Unity, diversity and evolution. London: Taylor & Francis. pp. 1–26. doi:10.1201/9781482268225.
  3. ^ Fauré-Frémiet, E. & Théodoridès, J. (1972). État des connaissances sur la structure des Protozoaires avant la formulation de la Théorie cellulaire. Revue d'histoire des sciences, 27–44.
  4. ^ "Home". International Society of Protistologists. Retrieved 2021-06-28.
  5. ^ Wolf M., Hausmann K. (2001). "Protozoology from the perspective of science theory: history and concept of a biological discipline" (PDF). Linzer Biol. Beitr. 33: 461–488.
  6. ^ "Protist". Elsevier. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  7. ^ "Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology". Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology. doi:10.1111/(ISSN)1550-7408. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  8. ^ "Acta Protozoologica (International Journal of Protozoology)". Jagiellonian University Press. Archived from the original on 4 May 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  9. ^ "European Journal of Protistology". Elsevier. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  10. ^ "Journal of Protistology". J-STAGE. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  11. ^ "Protistology, an international journal". Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  12. ^ "New President's Address". Retrieved 2015-05-01.
  13. ^ Taylor, F. J. R. 'M. (2003). "The collapse of the two-kingdom system, the rise of protistology and the founding of the International Society for Evolutionary Protistology (ISEP)". International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. 53 (6): 1707–1714. doi:10.1099/ijs.0.02587-0. PMID 14657097.
  14. ^ "Welcome to Protistology UK!". Protistology UK. Retrieved 25 December 2020.
  15. ^ "International Society of Protistologists". International Society of Protistologists. Retrieved 25 December 2020.