Grows on you


Bacteria are unicellular ("one cell"), prokaryotic organisms that are usually microscopic, ranging from 0.2 to 10 micrometers (1 micrometer equals 1/25,000 inch). They generally lack organelles, such as a nucleus. About 4000 species have been identified, and there are probably lots more. There are bacteria that live in air, soil, freshwater, seawater, hot springs, frozen soil, on plants, animals, and on and in you! Some foods we enjoy are produced by bacteria, such as cheese, yogurt, and pickles. Other bacteria can be harmful and cause diseases, such as the pathogenic Streptococcus.

There are two different kinds of bacteria in this image. I found them on a copepod I was studying. They were happily living on the surface of crustacean cuticle in the open ocean. Both of these types are classified as bacilli (rod-shaped), but one type is bumpy and the other is smooth. Other shapes of bacteria are cocci (spheres)(like the Streptococcus) and spirochetes (spirals), like leptospirosis.

Useful as recyclers, bacteria are important in decomposing many kinds of compounds. They feed on plant and animal wastes, but can also attack and degrade most anything humans can make, including detergents, poisons, and oil!

About 250,000 bacteria could fit on the period at the end of this sentence.

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Copyright © 1996-2000 Tina (Weatherby) Carvalho...MicroAngela
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