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The Difference Between Archaea & Bacteria

The Difference Between Archaea & Bacteria

Almost everyone has heard of bacteria, but let’s go through the difference between archaea and bacteria.

Archaea and bacteria are from the category of prokaryotes – any organism that lacks a distinct nucleus and organelles due to the lack of internal membranes. They are, however, two completely different cellular life forms. 


They can be found everywhere – on and in the human body.


The microorganism that exists side by side with bacteria on humans may look similar but has a different chemical structure and is capable of thriving in habitats that include extreme cold to extreme heat, deep sea vents, and toxic waste.


The Discovery


The discovery of archaea occurred during genetic testing on a group of microorganisms believed to be bacteria. The organisms existed in extreme heat and produced methane. 

The discovery was so surprising that it led to the organisation of life into three domains: eukaryotes, bacteria, and archaea.


 The Characteristics Of Archaea


Archaea may have similar characteristics to bacteria, such as some genes, metabolic pathways and enzymes. Still, archaea are not cultured in laboratories. Scientists use culture-independent techniques for identification. 

The characteristics of archaea are:

  • They exist in low-oxygen conditions.
  • Fatty acids in the membrane lipids. 
  • They thrive in extreme environments, such as extremely hot or cold weather.
  • They reproduce asexually by budding, fission and fragmentation. Division processes of mitosis and meiosis are absent.
  • They assist in the carbon, nitrogen, and sulphur cycles
  • Some are methanogens. That means they produce methane as a by-product through cellular respiration.
  • Oxygen-generating photosynthesis is absent in these organisms.


More about Archaea


According to Scienceline.org, some examples of archaea are sulfurous and thrive in volcanic springs. They aid biotechnology. So, they can function at a low pH and a high temperature. 


Methanogens are a type of archaea. They produce methane during metabolic activities. They are also present in wetlands and are within the gastrointestinal tract of humans and other animals.

Methanogens treat wastewater.  


The Characteristics of Bacteria


Bacteria is the smallest living organism in the world. Bacteria produce antibiotics to induce biogeochemical cycles.  

The key characteristics are:

  • The cell wall is protected by a layer called peptidoglycan.
  • There are low amounts of ribosomes in the cytoplasm, which is a thick solution that fills each cell. 
  • The membrane lipids consist of fatty acids bound to glycerol through ester bonds. An ester bond is a bond between atoms.
  • Asexual reproduction occurs through binary fission, budding and fragmentation. 


Examples of Bacteria 


A common example of bacteria is Escherichia coli (E.coli). That is mostly in the lower intestine of humans, other animals, and other environments. 

Most E.coli are harmless and produce Vitamin K and B-12, but others may cause mild to severe diarrhoea.


Another example is Lactobacilli. These bacteria can use lactose from milk as fuel. They’re commonly found in the human intestines.

This bacteria ferments vegetables and milk.

Do Archaea Cause Disease?

Very little is known about whether archaea cause disease. In contrast, their partner bacteria and eukaryotes are known pathogens that cause all sorts of infections. Scientists have searched for archaea and found them at sites of the gum disease periodontitis. However, research is still needed to determine if archaea cause diseases such as Crohn’s disease, arthritis, lupus and gingivitis. 


Why are probiotics so important?


If you have ever had a bacterial infection, you most likely received a course of antibiotics from your doctor. With this, you received some probiotics added to the prescription, right? 


Probiotics are there to balance your good and bad gut bacteria. They are linked to a wide range of health benefits like good digestive health.


When you take a course of antibiotics, the medication doesn’t discriminate between good and bad bacteria and can throw your gut bacteria levels off balance. Probiotics replace good bacteria.


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