Bacteria
Microorganisms
    Site written by
Steve Dickson
 

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MicroorganismsMicroorganisms - Information on the top microbe related searches. Covering bacteria, effective and harmful microbes as well as microbe pictures, details of microorganisms in water and the living soil and more.



The Bacteria page provides some background, classification and morphology of bacteria and points you to other research sites on their chemistry, structure and benefits.


Leptospira bacteria, which causes serious 
disease in livestock

Bacteria in dental plaque



some background - the good the bad and the ugly

Bacteria can be found virtually everywhere. They are in the air, the soil, and water, and in and on plants and animals, including us. A single teaspoon of topsoil contains about a billion such cells (and about 120,000 fungal cells and some 25,000 algal cells). The human mouth is home to more than 500 species of them.

Some (along with archaea) thrive in the most forbidding, uninviting places on Earth, from nearly-boiling hot springs to super-chilled Antarctic lakes buried under sheets of ice. Microbes that dwell in these extreme habitats are aptly called extremophiles.

Bacteria are often maligned as the causes of human and animal disease (like the one above, Leptospira, which causes serious disease in livestock). However, certain types, the actinomycetes, produce antibiotics such as streptomycin and nocardicin; others live symbiotically in the guts of animals (including humans) or elsewhere in their bodies, or on the roots of certain plants, converting nitrogen into a usable form. Bacteria put the tang in yogurt and the sour in sourdough bread; they help to break down dead organic matter; they make up the base of the food web in many environments. They are of such immense importance because of their extreme flexibility, capacity for rapid growth and reproduction, and great age where the oldest related fossils known are nearly 3.5 billion years old.

Bacteria and their microbial cousins the archaea were the earliest forms of life on Earth. And may have played a role in shaping our planet into one that could support the larger life forms we know today by developing photosynthesis. Cyanobacteria fossils date back more than 3 billion years. These photosynthetic ones paved the way for today's algae and plants. Cyanobacteria grow in the water, where they produce much of the oxygen that we breathe. Once considered a form of algae, they are also known as blue-green algae.

classifying bacteria

Classifying them on the basis of their morphology is extremely difficult; they are generally quite small and have simple shapes, though there are some, notably the cyanobacteria and actinomycetes, with sufficiently complex morphology to permit classification by shape. In addition to shape, they have traditionally been identified and classified on the basis of their biochemistry and the conditions under which they grow. The advent of molecular biology has made it possible to classify them on the basis of similarities among DNA sequences, and has revolutionized thinking in their systematics.

their morphology (structure)

Bacteria lack the membrane-bound nuclei of eukaryotes; their DNA forms a tangle known as a nucleoid, but there is no membrane around the nucleoid, and the DNA is not bound to proteins as it is in eukaryotes. Whereas eukaryote DNA is organized into linear pieces, the chromosomes, bacterial DNA forms loops. They contain plasmids, or small loops of DNA, that can be transmitted from one cell to another, either in the course of sex (yes, they have sex) or by viruses. This ability to trade genes with all comers makes them amazingly adaptible; beneficial genes, like those for antibiotic resistance, may be spread very rapidly through bacterial populations. It also makes them favorites of molecular biologists and genetic engineers; new genes can be inserted into them with ease.



Flesh Eating BacteriaFlesh Eating - Information and pictures (beware) of the effects of the flesh eating bacteria called necrotizing fasciitis, when it might occur and links to survivors of the flesh eating bacteria.

Stomach BacteriaStomach Bacteria - Read about the stomach bacteria called Heliobacter Pylori and decide whether it is friendly or not, how it survives and links to medical articles about the stomach bacteria.


The most relevant links we could find, placed here free

Berkley University Research - A research site on microbes www.ucmp.berkeley.edu

MicrobeWorld - A good souce of research and reference material on bacteria. www.microbeworld.org

Site structure created by Neil Villette Site written by Steve Dickson