Bacteria (singular: bacterium) is a large group of unicellular microorganisms. Also known as Eubactaria or "true bacteria" to distinguish them from Archea (or archeabacteria), they are typically a few micrometres in length. Bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals.
Bacteria are ubiquitous in every habitat on Earth, growing in soil, acidic hot springs, radioactive waste, water, and deep in the Earth's crust, as well as in organic matter and the live bodies of plants and animals. There are typically 40 million bacterial cells in a gram of soil and a million bacterial cells in a millilitre of fresh water; in all, there are approximately five nonillion (5×1030) bacteria on Earth, forming much of the world's biomass. Bacteria are vital in recycling nutrients, with many steps in nutrient cycles depending on these organisms, such as the fixation of nitrogen from the atmosphere and putrefaction. However, most bacteria have not been characterized, and only about half of the phyla of bacteria have species that can be grown in the laboratory. The study of bacteria is known as bacteriology, a branch of microbiology.
Photo: A photomicrograph of Bacillus anthracis bacteria using Gram-stain technique.
Bacteria (in-depth)Last Updated on 2009-03-24 at 00:51Note: this article is a draft from Citizendium. If you'd like to help improve the article, please register with Citizendium (and let them know you've been referred by the Tree of... More »
Bacteria (overview)Last Updated on 2009-03-24 at 00:50Bacteria (singular: bacterium) is a large group of unicellular microorganisms. Formerly known as Eubactaria or "true bacteria" to distinguish them from Archaea (formerly known as... More »