Diversity of Eukaryotic MicroOrgaNisms
The DEMON research consortium has enormous knowledge on molecular biology, biochemistry, taxonomy, physiology, and ecology of protists from almost all kinds of environments. The current composition of the consortium is formed by well-known researchers with a strong publication record based in the European Union, namely from southern and eastern Europe.
Our goal is to keep on revealing the huge diversity of protists in the fresh and sea waters, sediments, and soil environments across Europe. We are curious about their metabolic potential, roles in the food chains, and biogeochemical cycles plus their interactions with other organisms including human. For this, we use high-throughput metabarcoding and -omics methods and we are developing new cultivation approaches. Our consortium consists of senior Principal Investigators with well-established laboratories as well as young scientists with freshly formed teams.
Who Are Protists?
Protists are all eukaryotes except animals, land plants, and fungi.
- Protists constitute a paraphyletic group containing most deep-branching eukaryotic lineages except well-studied macroscopic multicellular lineages.
- Although protists are generally vastly understudied, they are the main source of eukaryotic diversity and play key roles in global ecosystems.
- Many protists are well-known parasites of humans, animals and plants having a very strong impact on health and the economy worldwide, for example Plasmodium (causing malaria) and Trypanosoma brucei (causing sleeping sickness).
- The lack of information on protists is huge and covers from ecology to human health.
- Protists most likely represent the wider biodiversity knowledge gap in the study of planetary wellbeing.
Examples of Protists We Study
Ludio parvulus (Ciliophora: Armophorida) a common but little known anaerobic ciliate
Synura hibernica, a colonial chrysophyte flagellate restricted in its distribution to western Ireland
Streblomastix strix, a flagellate covered by ectosymbiotic prokaryotes stained by species specific FISH probes
An undescribed marine anaerobic ciliate (Oligohymenophorea) covered in ectosymbiotic bacteria