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Difference between bacteria and protists

Nature is made up of innumerable living organisms which are different and varied in many aspects. Out of all the living organisms, bacteria are the most abundant living species found almost everywhere ,in the air we breathe, the food we eat and even in the water we drink. It is difficult to imagine that there is huge population of bacteria living in our body too which is very beneficial to us. Protists on the other hand are a very diverse group of organisms that are also widely found in the environment but always in moist surroundings. Like all other living organisms they also have a need for food for energy. Both these organisms are microscopic organisms which can do harm as well as good for humans.


Bacteria are single celled organisms which have a simple cell with a very low level of cell differentiation. Bacteria either grow as a single cell or in a colony of cells. They can obtain their food in a variety of ways. They can produce their own food making them known as producers , or when they depend on other organisms for food they are known as consumers. Some can move with the help of flagella or fimbriae- like structures while others are immotile.


Protists are the most diverse organisms and they are very difficult to classify as some of them have plant like, animal like or fungus like characteristics. They are more evolved than bacteria, thus they show a higher degree of cell structure differentiation. Protists are more complex compared to bacteria.

Though both these living organisms have evolved from the same ancestors, there are certain key differences which separate them.


Bacteria are the oldest organisms known to exist on earth. They belong to the oldest Kingdom Monera while Protists are classified as Kingdom Protista. They have organisms which show characteristics similar to animals, plants or fungi. Thus, they further divided into 3 categories i.e. plant-like Protists, animal-like Protists or fungi-like Protists.


Bacteria are single-celled organisms and their cell structure is very simple. There is no nucleus which is the chief controller of a cell. The DNA, which is the genetic material, is scattered in the cell. Since they do not contain a nucleus, they are known as prokaryotic organisms. They do not contain any small specialized smaller organs known as organelles. They can be rod shaped, spiral, spherical, chain like, etc.

Protists can be either single-celled or multicellular. They contain a nucleus as well as specialized smaller organelles. In addition, their genetic material is compact within an envelope.


Bacteria are found practically everywhere. They comprise a major part of the population in the environment. Protists are found only in moist surroundings.


Although bacteria are notoriously known to cause diseases in humans, they are also beneficial in many ways. They maintain a healthy balance in the environment. They maintain the food chain in the environment by a process of recycling nutrients. They are also found in the human gut and maintain health by producing vitamin K and vitamin B12. They are used in industries for making bread, alcohol , yoghurt and cheese.

Protists are equally important for maintaining an equilibrium in the ecosystem. They are responsible for supplying oxygen which is necessary for breathing.


Bacteria and Protists are both important living organisms which compromise a major part of our surroundings. Though they have evolved from common ancestors , there are certain vital differences which show the process of evolution between both the organisms. Protists have a highly evolved and well defined cell structure in comparison to Bacteria. Protists are only found in moist surroundings, while bacteria are found everywhere. Bacteria are single celled while protists can be single celled or multicellular.

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