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Difference between Archaea and bacteria - Biology

Archaea - An Introduction

Archaea are prokaryotic, single-celled microorganisms that do not have a cell nucleus. Archaea is one of the three major domains of life. It is further subdivided into various phyla. Archaea are morphologically similar to bacteria but some of them differ in having a flat and square shape of their cells. They have ether lipids with archaeols in their cell membrane. They use organic compounds like sugars, ammonia, metal ions, and hydrogen gas as the main source of energy for archaea. Some species of archaea fix sunlight while others fix carbon to obtain energy. Due to this property, they play a major role in maintaining the carbon and nitrogen cycle in the ecosystem. Archaea are generally found in extreme environmental conditions like hot water springs, salty oceans, and lakes, marshy lands, etc. but they can also be found in soil, human microbiota, mouth, and even skin. These organisms are most abundantly present in oceans. The modes of reproduction in archaea are binary fission, fragmentation, and budding.

Pathogenic or parasitic activities of archaea have not been observed yet but they are known to show commensalism and mutualism. Archaea play a significant role in maintaining a natural ecosystem on the planet. As methanogens, they are widely used in biogas manufacturing, wastewater treatment plants, and in varied fields of biotechnology. Their ability to survive in high temperatures and pH makes them an ideal organism for exploitation and usage.

Bacteria - An Introduction

The branch of microbiology that deals with the study of bacteria is known as bacteriology. Bacteria are a group of microscopic, prokaryotic organisms. It is a large domain consisting of single-celled microbes having slightly different structures as compared to archaea. It is a wide class of organisms having different shapes, sizes, and cell structures.

Based on cell staining, bacteria can be divided into two groups- gram-positive and gram-negative. A gram of soil may contain about 40 million bacteria and a milliliter of water can also thrive a million bacterial cells. Human skin and gut contain the highest number of bacteria. Most of them including the gut flora are helpful but many cause diseases that are rendered ineffective by the immune system. Pathogenic species of bacteria cause cholera, anthrax, leprosy, bubonic plague, and several other diseases. Bacteria also show symbiotic and parasitic association with plants and animals. Peptidoglycans, lipopolysaccharides, and muramic acid are the main components of bacterial cell walls.

They can be spherical, rod-shaped, or spiral. A bacterium was the first form of life found on this planet. They inhibit all the possible habitats in the environment. Only half of the bacterial species are known to date. These bacterial species can be grown in the laboratory under specific conditions. They can be found in soil, water, the human body, inside the earth’s crust, etc. Bacteria play an important role in cycling nutrients into the atmosphere. The fixation of nitrogen, carbon, and sulfur cannot be accomplished without specific bacteria. They are responsible for the putrefaction of dead bodies. Certain bacteria like extremophiles in hydrothermal vents and cold seeps convert dissolved compounds into life-sustaining nutrients. An example would be the conversion of hydrogen sulfide and methane to energy. A bacterium is also used in the fermentation of cheese and yogurt. Breakdown of spills, antibiotic production, mining sector, and chemical industries also utilize different species of bacteria.

Difference between archaea and bacteria

Archaea Bacteria
Extreme environments like hot springs, ocean depth, salty marshes, etc. are habitats for archaea. Bacteria can be found everywhere in the environment like soil, water, inside living organisms, etc.
Their cell wall is known as pseudopeptidoglycans. Their cell wall is made up of peptidoglycans, muramic acid, and lipopolysaccharides.
Their metabolic pathway is related to glycolysis and the Krebs cycle. Glucose is broken down by metabolic pathways like glycolysis and the Krebs cycle.
They can be of three types- Methanogens, Halophiles, and Thermoacidophiles. Bacteria can be of two types- Gram positive and gram negative.
The three modes of reproduction in archaea are- fragmentation, binary fission and budding. Bacteria can proliferate by generating spores under favorable conditions.
These are no-pathogenic. Bacteria are pathogenic.
There is a complete absence of thymine from the tRNA of archaea. Bacterial tRNA contains thymine.
Archaea contains 10 subunits and complex RNA polymerase. Their RNA Polymerase contains 4 subunits and is simple.
E.g., Pyrococcusfuriosus, Sulfolobus Acidocaldarius E.g., Streptococcus Pneumoniae, Yersinia pestis

Despite morphological similarities, archaea and bacteria differ in several other properties. These two evolutionary domains can flourish in extreme environmental conditions. They can be found everywhere in nature.

 

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