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Mastigophora(măs'tĭgŏf`ərə), phylum of unicellular heterotrophic protozoans of the kingdom ProtistaProtista
, in the five-kingdom system of classification, a kingdom comprising a variety of unicellular and some simple multinuclear and multicellular eukaryotic organisms.
..... Click the link for more information. . Most of the approximately 1,500 species of Mastigophora are propelled by one or more flagella, and members of the group are sometimes referred to as flagellates. Some have pseudopodia, temporary armlike protrusions of cytoplasm that help the cell move about and enwrap particles of food. Asexual reproduction by binary fission is the norm, but some species reproduce sexually by a process called syngamy, the fusion of two gametes produced by meiosismeiosis
, process of nuclear division in a living cell by which the number of chromosomes is reduced to half the original number. Meiosis occurs only in the process of gametogenesis, i.e., when the gametes, or sex cells (ovum and sperm), are being formed.
..... Click the link for more information. (i.e., fertilization).
Some parasitic members of the Mastigophora are the causative organisms of disease in humans and other animals. Trypanosomestrypanosome
, microscopic, one-celled protozoan of the genus Trypanosoma, typically living as an active parasite in the bloodstream of a vertebrate; hundreds of species are known. A trypanosome is long and pointed and possesses a flagellum.
..... Click the link for more information. , for example, are the cause of African sleeping sickness and Chagas' diseaseChagas' disease,
disease of South and Central America caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. It usually affects children and young adults and is transmitted by the feces of infected insects, typically the assassin bug.
..... Click the link for more information. , and giardiasisgiardiasis
, infection of the small intestine by a protozoan, Giardia lamblia. Giardia, which was named after Alfred M. Giard, a French biologist, is spread via the fecal-oral route, most commonly by eating food contaminated by the unwashed hands of an infected
..... Click the link for more information. is caused by the mastigophoran Giardia lamblia.