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nThe term microbe is short for microorganism which means small organism – observed with a microscope

nOver 99% of microbes contribute to the quality of human life

nA small minority cause disease – in humans by sheer numbers or producing powerful toxins
nThe major groups of microbes are bacteria, Archaea, algae, fungi, protozoa & viruses
nIn terms of numbers, microbes represent most of the diversity of life on Earth and are found in every

nProkaryotic – single cell with nuclear material but no nuclear membrane or membrane bound organelles
nEukaryotic – most cells – with organized nucleus and membrane bound organelles

Organelles of
Microbial Origin

nMitochondria and Chloroplasts – have DNA similar to that of a Prokaryotic cell and can reproduce
independent of the rest of the Eukaryotic cell.
nIt is believed that both chloroplasts and mitochondria were one independent Prokaryotes who took up
residence in the Eukaryotic cell and have developed a special symbiotic relationship

nMitochondria and Chloroplasts – have DNA similar to that of a Prokaryotic cell and can reproduce
independent of the rest of the Eukaryotic cell.
nIt is believed that both chloroplasts and mitochondria were one independent Prokaryotes who took up
residence in the Eukaryotic cell and have developed a special symbiotic relationship


nOnly one cell – a prokaryotic cell

nLive in all environments – even above boiling point and below freezing point
nBasically three shapes – spherical , rod , and spiral or helical (spirullum) Exist as individuals or cluster
together to form pairs, chains, squares, or other groupings
nSome form spores
nSome are photoautotrophic - make their own food as plants and give off oxygen – Cyanobacteria are
also aerobic Purple and green bacteria are anaerobic
nSome are chemoautotrophic - synthesize their own food using energy from chemical reactions –
important for recycling in nitrogen and sulfur cycles
nSome have flagella - rotates like a tiny outboard motor, others
secrete a slime layer and move over surfaces like slugs

Gram positive bacteria

nstain purple under Gram stain
nhave a thick bilayer wall of the polymer peptidoglycan.
Gram negative bacteria
nstain red
nhave a thin layer of this polymer and an additional lipopolysaccharide outer layer, LPS,
noften endotoxic - capable of initiating inflammation and cell-mediated immune responses
ne.g., Salmonella, Shigella, and Escherichia.


nSimilar to bacteria – prokaryotic

nCell walls lack peptidoglycan + other differences
nOrigin very old - during formation of the earth
n Extremely tolerant to heat, acid, and toxic gases
n Found in extreme habitats in anaerobic environments to produce methane, high salt concentrations or
hot acid environments
nInvolved in carbon & nitrogen cycles, assist in digestion, & can be used in sewage treatment

Algal Protists

nAre Eukaryotic
nFound in fresh and salt water environments
nCan live on rocks, trees, and in soils with enough moisture
nCan carry on photosynthesis – produce large amount of oxygen
nDiatoms, Clamydomonas, Volvox, Spirogyra

Animal-like Protists

nProtozoa means “little animal” – act like tiny animals – Eukaryotic

nHunt other microbes for food
nMainly feed on bacteria, also other protozoa and some algae
nDigest food in digestive organelles
nCiliates, Amoebaes, Flagellates - Paramecium, Amoeba, Euglena
nMost are not harmful – a few are harmful
nCertain protozoa can cause dysentery and malaria


nCellular level, more like animals than plants – Eukaryotic

nCan’t synthesize their own food
nSingle celled as yeast or multicellular clusters as molds & mushrooms
nMulticellular ones form filament like strands – hyphae
nGrow best in slightly acidic environment – can grow in low moisture
nLive in soil, on plants & animals, in fresh & salt water
nOne teaspoon of topsoil has about 120,000 fungi
nBaker’s yeast for bread and brewing, some are used for antibiotics, others serve as decomposers
nSome cause disease in humans, animals and plants – ruin ¼ to ½ of fruits & vegetables per year


nAre acellular
nConsists of a piece of nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) encased in protein and in some cases a membrane-
like envelope
nThey come in many shapes
nFound anywhere there are cells to infest
nExist to reproduce – must take over a suitable host cell
nUses the cell machinery of the host cell to reproduce


nproteinaceous infectious particles, associated with a number of diseases

ncharacterized by loss of motor control, dementia, paralysis, wasting and eventually death
nMad Cow Disease in cattle
nCreutzfeld-Jacob disease (CJD) in humans


nOver 99% contribute to the quality of human life

nLive in every environment on earth
nImportant in ecological systems
nImportant in biogeochemical cycles
nHuman digestion depends upon them
nImportant to the food industry and the productions of many products
nHelp with wastewater and oil spill cleanup
nSmall minority cause disease

● Less resistant resting structures (spores and cysts) are formed by other microbial species.
● Spores and cysts are less resistant to harsh treatments than are endospores, but do have some
resistance especially to desiccation.
Endocysts, which are essentially bags within something, are typically one of two different things.
One of which is a bag or layer of cells within an organsims such as an animal that is not generally
associated with normal function. The second, refers to a collection of cells, like free living organisms that
clump together and form a supercolony, or endocyst. These are often seen in certain marine archeae
and cyanobacteria, or corals. This colony is not a germinating spore, or in any way associated with
reproduction, other than its obvious survival advantages to the organism(s) as a whole. Spores on
the other hand are typically self replicating reproductive bodies or non vegitative states of organisms.
The best studied spores are those found in certain types of fungus, bakers yeast (S. cerevisiae) and
Neurospora crassis and bacteria of the bacillus sp. which includes the extremely well studied strain B.
subtilis, and the pathogen B. anthracies, which causes Anthrax. In the case of the yeast, the spores
are differentiated sexually mature progeny that are capable of self replication, but are heartier and
genetically different than the parents, and or a daughter cell, which is the product of a direct replication.
In the bacteria, in response to harsh conditions, they will often form spores, which are a condensed and
protected collection of the cells genetic material that is capable of re-growth upon introduction into a
suitable environment. In the case of Anthrax, this is often in the skin, lungs and tissue of cows.