Members of the kingdom Protista can also be very beneficial to life on Earth. Many species of red algae are edible and are popular foods in certain parts of the world. Red algae are rich in vitamins and minerals. Carageenan, a polysaccharide extracted from red algae, is used as a thickening agent in ice cream and other foods. Giant kelp forests are rich ecosystems, providing food and shelter for many organisms. Trichonymphs are flagellates that live in the intestines of termites. These protozoans break down cellulose in wood into carbohydrates the termites can digest.
The kingdom Protista is a diverse group of organisms. Some protists are harmful, but many more are beneficial. These organisms form the foundation for food chains, produce the oxygen we breathe, and play an important role in nutrient recycling. Many protists are economically useful as well. As many more of these unique organisms are discovered, humans will certainly enjoy the new uses and benefits protists provide.
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