Flagellates are organisms with one or more whip-like organelles called flagella
A flagellum is a tail-like projection that protrudes from the cell body of certain prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, and plays the dual role of locomotion and sense organ, being sensitive to chemicals and temperatures outside the cell. There are some notable differences between prokaryotic and...
. Some cells in animal
Animals are a major group of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and...
s may be flagellate, for instance the spermatozoa of most phyla
In biology, a phylum The term was coined by Georges Cuvier from Greek φῦλον phylon, "race, stock," related to φυλή phyle, "tribe, clan." is a taxonomic rank below kingdom and above class. "Phylum" is equivalent to the botanical term division....
. Flowering plant
The flowering plants , also known as Angiospermae or Magnoliophyta, are the most diverse group of land plants. Angiosperms are seed-producing plants like the gymnosperms and can be distinguished from the gymnosperms by a series of synapomorphies...
s do not produce flagellate cells, but fern
A fern is any one of a group of about 12,000 species of plants belonging to the botanical group known as Pteridophyta. Unlike mosses, they have xylem and phloem . They have stems, leaves, and roots like other vascular plants...
Mosses are small, soft plants that are typically 1–10 cm tall, though some species are much larger. They commonly grow close together in clumps or mats in damp or shady locations. They do not have flowers or seeds, and their simple leaves cover the thin wiry stems...
es, green algae
The green algae are the large group of algae from which the embryophytes emerged. As such, they form a paraphyletic group, although the group including both green algae and embryophytes is monophyletic...
, some gymnosperms and other closely related plants do. Likewise, most fungi
A fungus is a member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds , as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, Fungi, which is separate from plants, animals, and bacteria...
do not produce cells with flagellae, but the primitive fungal chytrids do. Many protist
Protists are a diverse group of eukaryotic microorganisms. Historically, protists were treated as the kingdom Protista, which includes mostly unicellular organisms that do not fit into the other kingdoms, but this group is contested in modern taxonomy...
s take the form of single-celled flagellates.
The word flagellate describe a particular construction of eukaryotic organism and its means of motion. The term does not imply any specific relationship or classification of the organisms that possess flagellae. However, the term "flagellate" is included in other terms (such as "dinoflagellate
The dinoflagellates are a large group of flagellate protists. Most are marine plankton, but they are common in fresh water habitats as well. Their populations are distributed depending on temperature, salinity, or depth...
" and "zooflagellate") which often are more formally characterized.
Form and behaviorEukaryotic flagella are supported by microtubule
Microtubules are a component of the cytoskeleton. These rope-like polymers of tubulin can grow as long as 25 micrometers and are highly dynamic. The outer diameter of microtubule is about 25 nm. Microtubules are important for maintaining cell structure, providing platforms for intracellular...
s in a characteristic arrangement, with nine fused pairs surrounding two central singlets. These arise from a basal body or kinetosome, with microtubule roots that are an important part of the cell's brain. In some, for instance, they support a cytostome
A cytostome or cell mouth is a part of a cell specialized for phagocytosis, usually in the form of a microtubule-supported funnel or groove. Food is directed into the cytostome, and sealed into vacuoles. Only certain groups of protozoa, such as the ciliates and excavates, have cytostomes. Such...
or mouth, where food is ingested. The flagella often supports hairs, called mastigonemes, or contain rods. Their ultrastructure plays an important role in classifying eukaryote
A eukaryote is an organism whose cells contain complex structures enclosed within membranes. Eukaryotes may more formally be referred to as the taxon Eukarya or Eukaryota. The defining membrane-bound structure that sets eukaryotic cells apart from prokaryotic cells is the nucleus, or nuclear...
In protoctists and microscopic animals, flagella are generally used for propulsion. They may also be used to create a current that brings in food. In most things, one or more flagella are located at or near the anterior of the cell e.g. Euglena. Often there is one directed forwards and one trailing behind. Among animals, fungi, and Choanozoa, which make up a group called the opisthokont
The opisthokonts or "Fungi/Metazoa group" are a broad group of eukaryotes, including both the animal and fungus kingdoms, together with the eukaryotic microorganisms that are sometimes grouped in the paraphyletic phylum Choanozoa...
s, there is a single posterior flagellum. They are from the phylum Mastigophora. They can cause diseases and they can make their own food. They reproduce by binary fission.