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(a) Heliobacterium modesticaldum; the cell measures 1x3 m. (b) Methanopyrus kandleri; the cell
measures 0.5 x 4 m. (c) Saccharomyces cerevisiae; the cell measures 8 m in diameter.


The first edition of Bergeys Manual divided the archaea into five
major groups based on physiological and morphological
Methanogenic archaea,
Archaea sulfate reducers,
Extremely halophilic archaea ,
Cell wallless archaea ,

Extremely thermophilic S0 -metabolizers

On the basis of rRNA data archaea are divided into four

Euryarchaeota: physiologically diverse group

(7 classes : Methanobacteria, Methanococci, Halobacteria,

Thermoplasmata, Thermococci, Archaeglobi, and Methanopyri)

Crenarchaeota: Mostly hyper thermophilic group

Korarhcaeota: not yet recognized as a separate group,
mostly similar to the primitive archaea
Nanoarchaeota : A parasitic prokaryote usually seen
attached to Ignicoccus a Crenarchaeota


Archaea are quite diverse group
Gram positive or gram negative
some lack cell wall
Shape spherical, rod-shaped, spiral,
lobed, plate-shaped, irregularly
shaped, or pleomorphic.
Some are single cells, whereas others
form filaments or aggregates.
Size range from 0.1 to over 15m
Multiplication ; by binary fission,
budding, fragmentation,

Respiration: aerobic, facultatively, anaerobic, or strictly anaerobic.

They can be autotrophic, chemoorganotrophic or chemolithotrophic
Some are mesophiles; others are hyperthermophiles that can grow
above 100C.
Some are extreme halophile, some are extreme acidophiles

Cell structure
Cell wall:
Gram + (Eg. Metanobacterium) cell wall is made up of
pseudomuramic acid (N-acetyl talosamin uronic acid with
(14) glycosidic bonds )

Cell membrane:
It has a lipid monolayer made up branched chain
hydrocarbons attached to glycerol by ether links
Three types of membranes are present

Bilayer of C20diethers

Monolayer of C40tetraethers.

Genetic Material:
Single closed DNA with ~ 56% difference with that of bacteria and eukaryotes

Survival strategies
Extremely Halophilic Archaea: requires more that 1.5 M (about 9%)
NaCl for growth
Pump large amounts of K+ from the environment into the cytoplasm
High content of acidic aminoacids aspartate and glutamate in the
glycoproteins of the cell wall,
Acidic proteins in cytoplasm , ribosomes etc.
Presence of bacteriorhodopsin to synthesis ATP under anoxic