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Archaebacteria are the oldest organisms living on

the Earth. They are unicellular prokaryotes and

belong to the kingdom, Archaea. They were first
discovered in 1977 and classified as bacteria. Most
archaebacteria appear like bacteria, when observed
under the microscope. However, they are quite
different from bacteria and eukaryotic organisms.
Archaebacteria are found in very harsh conditions
such as in the volcanic vents or at the bottom of the
sea. They can easily survive in such extreme
environment as sea vents releasing sulfide-rich
gases, hot springs, or boiling mud around
Archaebacteria Groups
Under the kingdom Archaea, archebacteria are classified into the following phyla:
1. Phylum Euryarchaeota: This is the most studied division of archaea, and mostly includes
methanogens and halophiles.
2. Phylum Crenarchaeota: It includes thermophiles, hyperthermophiles and thermoacidophiles.
These archebacteria are mostly found in the marine environment.
3. Phylum Korarchaeota: This division consists of hyperthermophiles found in high
temperature hydrothermal environment.
4. Phylum Thaumarchaeota: This phylum includes ammonia-oxidizing archaea, as well as
those with unknown energy metablolism.
5. Phylum Nanoarchaeota: This phylum has a single representative member named
Nanoarchaeum equitans. This unusual archebacterium is an obligate symbiont of another
archaea belonging to the genus Ignicoccus.
Methanogens harvest energy by converting H2 and CO2 into methane gas. They are found in the
intestinal tracts of humans and some animals such as cows, and in marshes. Halophiles survive in a
high-salt atmosphere. Hence, they are found in the Great Salt Lake, Dead Sea and other areas with a
high salt concentration. Thermoacidophiles are found in the areas with very high temperatures and
extremely acidic conditions. They can be found in hydrothermal and volcanic vents.

Archaebacteria are obligate anaerobes and they survive only in oxygen-free environments.
They are known as extremophiles, as they are able to live in a variety of environment. Some
species can live in the temperatures above boiling point at 100 degree Celsius or 212 degree
Fahrenheit. They can also survive in acidic, alkaline or saline aquatic environment. Some
can withstand a pressure of more than 200 atmospheres.
The size of archaebacteria ranges from one-tenth of a micrometer to more than 15
micrometers. Some of archaebacteria have flagella.

Like all prokaryotes, archaebacteria don't possess the membrane-bound organelles. They
don't have nuclei, endoplasmic reticula, Golgi complexes, mitochondria, chloroplasts, or
lysosomes. The cells consist of a thick cytoplasm that contains all the compounds and
molecules required for metabolism and nutrition. Their cell wall doesn't contain
peptidoglycan. The rigid cell wall supports the cell and allows an archaebacterium to
maintain its shape. It also protects the cell from bursting when present in a hypotonic

Archaebacteria have lipids in their cell membranes. They are composed of branched
hydrocarbon chains, connected to glycerol by ether linkages.

Since these organisms don't have nuclei, the genetic material floats freely in the cytoplasm.
They consist of ribosomal RNA (rRNA). Their DNA contains a single, circular molecule,
which is compact and tightly wound. No protein is associated with DNA.

The archaebacterial cell may contain plasmids, which are small, circular pieces of DNA.
They can duplicate independent of a larger, genomic DNA circle. Plasmids often code for
antibiotic resistance or particular enzymes.
Archaebacteria have been found to be indifferent to all major antibiotics. However, they
have been observed to be sensitive towards those chemicals/drugs that obstruct the lipid
cycle involved in wall polymer biosynthesis.
Archaebacteria reproduce by an asexual process known as binary fission. During this
process, the bacterial DNA replicates. The cell wall pinches off in the center, due to which
the organism is divided into two new cells. Each cell consists of a copy of circular DNA.
Some species can multiply from one cell into two in as less time as 20 minutes.
During transformation, DNA fragments released by one archaebacterium are taken up by
another. In the process of transduction, a bacteriophage (a virus infecting bacterial cells)
transfers genetic material from one organism to another. In the process of conjugation,
genetic material is exchanged between two bacteria. These mechanisms lead to genetic
recombination, causing the continued evolution of archaebacteria.
The interactions between archaebacteria and other life forms are either symbiotic or
commensal as archaea are not known to pose pathogenic hazard to other organisms.
A characteristic unique to archaea is the composition of their cell walls. The archaebacteria
cell wall is made of pseudomurein, which is made up of a combination of Nacetyltalosaminuronic acid and N-acetylglucosamine. This kind of cell wall makes
archaebacteria immune to the effects of Lysozyme, which is an enzyme produced by a host's
immune system to attack and disable cell walls of pathogenic bacteria.


Archaea exist in a broad range of habitats, and as a major part of global ecosystems,[13] may
represent about 20% of microbial cells in the oceans. [153] The first-discovered archaeans were
extremophiles.[106] Indeed, some archaea survive high temperatures, often above 100 C (212 F), as
found in geysers, black smokers, and oil wells. Other common habitats include very cold habitats
and highly saline, acidic, or alkaline water. However, archaea include mesophiles that grow in mild
conditions, in swamps and marshland, sewage, the oceans, the intestinal tract of animals, and soils.

Extremophile archaea are members of four main physiological groups. These are the
halophiles, thermophiles, alkaliphiles, and acidophiles.[154] These groups are not comprehensive or
phylum-specific, nor are they mutually exclusive, since some archaea belong to several groups.
Nonetheless, they are a useful starting point for classification.
Halophiles, including the genus Halobacterium, live in extremely saline environments such
as salt lakes and outnumber their bacterial counterparts at salinities greater than 2025%.[106]
Thermophiles grow best at temperatures above 45 C (113 F), in places such as hot springs;
hyperthermophilic archaea grow optimally at temperatures greater than 80 C (176 F).[155] The
archaeal Methanopyrus kandleri Strain 116 can even reproduce at 122 C (252 F), the highest
recorded temperature of any organism.[156]
Other archaea exist in very acidic or alkaline conditions. [154] For example, one of the most
extreme archaean acidophiles is Picrophilus torridus, which grows at pH 0, which is equivalent to
thriving in 1.2 molar sulfuric acid.[157]
This resistance to extreme environments has made archaea the focus of speculation about
the possible properties of extraterrestrial life.[158] Some extremophile habitats are not dissimilar to
those on Mars,[159] leading to the suggestion that viable microbes could be transferred between
planets in meteorites.[160]
Recently, several studies have shown that archaea exist not only in mesophilic and
thermophilic environments but are also present, sometimes in high numbers, at low temperatures as
well. For example, archaea are common in cold oceanic environments such as polar seas. [161] Even
more significant are the large numbers of archaea found throughout the world's oceans in nonextreme habitats among the plankton community (as part of the picoplankton).[162] Although these
archaea can be present in extremely high numbers (up to 40% of the microbial biomass), almost
none of these species have been isolated and studied in pure culture.[163] Consequently, our
understanding of the role of archaea in ocean ecology is rudimentary, so their full influence on
global biogeochemical cycles remains largely unexplored.[164] Some marine Crenarchaeota are
capable of nitrification, suggesting these organisms may affect the oceanic nitrogen cycle,[165]
although these oceanic Crenarchaeota may also use other sources of energy.[166] Vast numbers of
archaea are also found in the sediments that cover the sea floor, with these organisms making up the
majority of living cells at depths over 1 meter below the ocean bottom.[167][168]


Bacteria are microscopic organisms that comprise the domain Eubacteria. A domain is the highest
grouping of organisms, superseding the level of kingdom in the classical Linnaean system of
biological classification. There are three domains, two of which, Eubacteria and Archaea, are
composed entirely of prokaryotic organisms; the third domain, Eucarya, encompasses all other (
eukaryotic ) life forms, including the single-cell and multicellular protists, as well as animals,
green plants, and fungi. Unlike eukaryotic cells, prokaryotic cells lack nuclei and other organelles ,
and tend to be less complex.
The spherical-shaped Chlamydia pneumonia bacteria.
Eubacteria are differentiated from archaea primarily based on chemical composition of cellular
constituents. For example, bacterial cell walls are composed of peptidoglycan (though there are
examples of bacteria that lack cell walls) while archaeal cell walls are composed of a protein
-carbohydrate molecule called pseudopeptidoglycan or other molecules. Bacterial cell membranes
are composed of fatty acids joined to glycerol by ester bonds (COOC), while archaeal membranes
are composed of isoprenoids rather than glycerol, linked to fatty acids by ether bonds (COC). In
addition, the archaea have a more complex ribonucleic acid (RNA) polymerase than bacteria.

Life Cycle
Reproduction in bacteria involves duplicating the genetic material and dividing the cell into two
daughter cells, a process known as binary fission. Under very favorable conditions, certain bacterial
cells can divide as often as once every twenty minutes. Some bacteria, such as Clostridium and
Bacillus species, possess the ability to form a resting state, or "spore," when unfavorable conditions
are encountered. These spores are very resistant to heat, drying, radiation, and toxic chemicals.
Bacterial spores have reportedly been reawakened from a 250-million-year-old salt crystal that
existed before the time of the dinosaurs. Sterilization techniques used in medicine must overcome
these resistant properties.
Prokaryotes range in size from 0.2 micrometers to more than 50 micrometers, although the average
prokaryote is around 1 to 3 micrometers in size. Eukaryotic cells are approximately one order of
magnitude larger, ranging in size from 5 to 20 micrometers in diameter, with an average size of 20
The bacteria come in a number of distinct shapes as well. Common shapes include spherical
(coccus), cylindrical (rod), and spiral forms (spirilla). While bacteria are generally regarded as
unicellular organisms, there are also examples of bacteria that exist as multicellular colonies,
aggregates, or filaments. In addition, bacteria can aggregate on surfaces. Called biofilms, these
assemblages can consist of a single species or communities of microorganisms that can participate
in metabolic cooperation.