THE BACTERIAL CELL: Classification and Morphology

Department of Microbiology and Parasitology Davao Medical School Foundation

Differences between Prokaryote and Eukaryote
DNA free in the cytoplasm Cell division by binary fission Energy metabolism associated with the cytoplasmic membrane

DNA is contained with a membrane-bound nucleus Cells divide by mitosis Mitochondria present in most cases

Differences between Prokaryote and Eukaryote
Flagella consist of one protein Flagella have a complex structure with 9+2 microtubular structure Ribosomes are of 80S type Polysaccharide cell walls, where present, are generally either cellulose or chitin

Ribosomes are of 70S type Peptidoglycan cell walls

Bacterial Forms
Spheres or Cocci
Singly, in pairs with both apposing sides flattened (diplococci), in chains (streptococci), groups of fours (tetrads), or in grape-like clusters (staphylococci)

Rods or Bacilli
Very short (coccobacilli), long filaments (incomplete separation), fusiform (tapered ends), club-shaped, comma-shaped (vibrioid)

Spiral or Spirilli

Bacterial Forms

Bacterial Forms
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Lack rigid cell wall No defined shape Variation of size and shape Assymetric growth of cell wall Long chains, irregular clustering, etc Determined by orientation of cell division planes and tendency to adhere

Aggregation properties
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Bacterial Size
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Vary in size from 0.4 – 5 µm Hundred-fold larger than virus Ten-fold smaller than eukaryotic cell Spirillar forms can be many times longer than their cross-sectional diameter

Bacterial Ultrastructure
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Cell envelope Cytoplasmic structures External appendages

Cell Envelope

Term applied to the material external to and enclosing the cytoplasm Most prominent layers:
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Cell wall Cell membrane

Cell Wall

Prevent from exploding in hypotonic solutions due to its high internal osmotic pressure Determines the shape of bacterial cell

Cell Wall
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Also known as peptidoglycan layer Peptido portion: short string of amino acids cross-linking the carbohydrate units Glycan portion: linear polymer of alternating monosaccharide subunits of
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N-acetylglucosamine (NAG) N-acetylmuramic acid (NAM)

Cell Membrane

Composed of phospholipids forming two parallel layers (lipid bilayer) Polar phosphate groups: facing outside Non-polar lipid chains: on the inside Does not differ from human cell

Cell Membrane

Selective permeability: easily allows lipid-soluble small molecules (O2, CO2) Specific protein contents:
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Porins – channels Permeases – carriers for specific substances

Contains the ATP-producing mechanism

Gram-positive Cell Envelope

Thick multilayered peptidoglycan cell wall external to the bacterial cell membrane Teichoic acids
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Polymer of glycerol units Present in all Gram-positive organisms Major cell surface antigens

Gram-negative Cell Envelope
Outer membrane

Contain lipopolysaccharides which is antigenic (O-polysaccharide portion) and toxic (lipid portion) Lipid A: endotoxin of Gram-negative organisms Contains the thin peptidoglycan cell wall Also contain enzymes and other various substances

Periplasmic space
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External Capsule and Glycocalyx

Usually polysaccharide but sometimes made of protein Tightly bound to the bacterial cell and has organized structure Loosely bound to bacterial cell and amorphous


External Capsule and Glycocalyx

Allow bacterial cells to adhere to surfaces Protection from antibodies and phagocytosis Diffusion barriers against some antibiotics


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Long semi-rigid, helical, hollow tubular structures composed of flagellin For motility Responds to chemotactic stimulus Attached to cell wall and cell membrane by a basal body that rotates the flagellum Highly antigenic (H-antigen)

Pili or fimbriae
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Shorter and thinner than flagella Attachment organs for cell-to-cell contact

Bacterium-mucosal cells (Neisseria gonorrhea) Bacterium-bacterium (Eschericia coli) through sex pili for donation of DNA molecules

Cytoplasmic Structures
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Cytoplasm Nucleoid Ribosomes Inclusions Endospores Plasmids Mesosomes


Complex mixture of substances enclosed by the cell envelope Consists of amorphous aqueous fluid Where suspended or dissolved are

Enzymes, ions, metabolites, storage granules Fibrous mass of densely packed DNA, RNA and proteins, also plasmids


Fibrous mass of genetic material

Double-stranded circular DNA composing the bacterial singular chromosome Associated RNA and proteins

No discernible membrane enclosure


Small fraction of circular doublestranded DNA molecules that exists and replicates autonomously Carry genes for a variety of functions not essential for bacterial cell viability Enhance bacterial survival by
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conveying antibiotic resistance enhancing mating ability making possible toxin production


Responsible for polymerization of amino acids into proteins (as in eukaryotes) Differ in composition and size from eukaryotic ribosomes
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70S (50S, 30S) as against 80S (60S, 40S) of eukaryotes 53 proteins as against 80+ proteins among eukaryotes

Cytoplasmic Inclusions

Accumulations of food reserves
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Polysaccarides Lipids Polyphosphates

Maybe membrane-bound or scattered in the cytoplasm

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Dormant form within vegetative cell Can be released as free spores Rich in calcium dipicolinate Most resistant life forms known
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Heat (survive boiling) Dessication Ultraviolet light Bacteriocidal chemical agents Destroyed by autoclaving


Formation of spore within vegetative cell Process
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Invagination of parent cell membrane Isolation of copy of bacterial DNA Formation of new cell wall (peptidoglycan) Formation of outer keratin-like external coat Formation of external lipoprotein layer

Spore Germination

Return of spore form to vegetative state Occurs in nutritionally-rich environment Process

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Destruction of cortex by lytic enzymes Uptake of water Release of dipicolinate from the cell

Medical Significance of Sporulation

Most notorious pathogens are spore-formers
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Bacillus anthracis (Anthrax) Clostridium botulinum (Botulism) Clostridium perfringens (Gas gangrene)

Spores can remain viable for many years


Complex invaginations of bacterial cell membrane Seem to be involved in chromosome separation May be evolutionarily related to nuclear envelope of eukaryotes



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