What are Archaebacteria?

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov

Archaebacteria are a type of prokaryote, that is, a unicellular organism without a cell nucleus. They make up the kingdom Archae, one of the main kingdoms of life. These organisms are difficult to classify because they have similarities to both normal bacteria and the larger eukaryotes. In structure, they are like unicellular prokaryotes, but the genetic transcription and translation underlying their creation is similar to that of the more complex eukaryotes.

Archaebacteria are unicellular organisms that lack a nucleus.
Archaebacteria are unicellular organisms that lack a nucleus.

Able to live in a variety of environments, archaebacteria are known as extremophiles. Certain species are able to live in temperatures above boiling point at 100° Celsius or 212° Fahrenheit. They can also thrive in very saline, acidic, or alkaline aquatic environments. They employ a variety of chemical tricks to accomplish this, with one species, halobacteria, able to convert light into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) or cell energy, using a non-photosynthetic process. Halobacteria live in waters almost completely saturated with salt, and unlike photosynthetic plants, are incapable of extracting carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide.

A type of "extremophile", archaebacteria use chemical tricks to survive in harsh environments, such as volcanic lakes.
A type of "extremophile", archaebacteria use chemical tricks to survive in harsh environments, such as volcanic lakes.

Archaebacteria have a size between 1/10th of a micrometer to over 15 micrometers. (A human hair is about 100 micrometers in width.) Some possess flagella, but these are substantially different in structure than the flagella bacteria have. In 1999, Pyrococcus abyssi, one of the toughest archaebacteria on Earth, had its genome sequenced. Further study of its resilience to extreme temperatures is expected to have applications in the biotechnology industry. Archaebacteria are non-pathogenic, living in and around other organisms but not infecting them. Some are able to withstand pressures of above 200 atmospheres, allowing them to thrive deep within the Earth.

Archaebacteria were not recognized as a distinct form of life from bacteria until 1977, when Carl Woese and George Fox determined this through RNA studies. However, the kingdom Archae has a close relationship to the kingdom Eukarya, the two sharing many genetic trees and common traits. One of the first places Archae were discovered was at the boiling hot springs in Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone National Park's boiling hot springs was one of the first places Archae was discovered.
Yellowstone National Park's boiling hot springs was one of the first places Archae was discovered.
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov

Michael is a longtime wiseGEEK contributor who specializes in topics relating to paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism. In addition to being an avid blogger, Michael is particularly passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. He has also worked for the Methuselah Foundation, the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and the Lifeboat Foundation.

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Discussion Comments

anon981306

To answer some questions: All bacteria are unicellular. All bacteria are prokaryotic, They are heterotrophs, autotrophs, and decomposers.

anon307243

What does an archaebacteria have in common with a white blood cell, antibody, and a red blood cell?

anon296500

I want to know how is it harmful to humans?

anon253438

I need to know about the respiration of archaebateria.

anon244743

Some examples of archaebacteria are methanogens,

halophiles and thermoaciophiles.

anon244742

@anon7593: Archaebacteria live in extreme places like hot springs and hot sulfur springs. Archaebacteria are also autotrophs and use chemosynthesis instead of photosynthesis.

anon220853

what do they eat?

anon147211

what is the reason for archaebacteria?

anon131012

Archaebacteria have a cell wall, it just doesn't have any peptidoglycan, but eubacteria do have peptidoglycan.

anon113711

Archeabacteria live in extreme conditions where any other living organisms could not survive. that is the difference between archeabacteria and eubacteria.

anon111629

What is the type of circulatory system that has archeobacteria?

anon106012

are they heterotrophic or autotrophic?

anon101628

how can archeobacteria survive without a cell wall?

anon78628

How are the organisms in archeabateria useful to humans?

anon78326

whats the taxonomy of an archaebacteria? like what would an example of one be?

anon75819

Are they heterotroph or autotroph?

anon72478

How are they important to humans?

anon59897

why do scientists think that Archaebacteria were the first forms of life on our planet?

anon57992

Archaebacteria are very similar to prokaryotes. But they differ from the cell wall and the cell membrane. In prokaryotic cell membrane a phospholipid bi layer is present. But in archaebacteria a single layer of phospholipid is available. That's a reason why they could live in very limited resource environments.

anon54228

do the archaebacteria have endospores?

anon49629

What was their contribution to life on earth?

anon47922

are archaebacteria harmful or helpful to our environment?

anon46888

What do archaebacteria have to do with humans as in diseases and sickness? What do they eat?

anon46519

Reproduction?

tangut

can some body tell me what biology is about?

anon45673

can somebody help me find the reason why archaebacterias were the first thing to exist on the world?

anon37333

Help! what are at least five cell structures of an archaebacteria cell?

anon28867

How do they benefit and or harm the environment?

anon28796

well, if some archaebacteria can produce ATP without photosynthetic processes. maybe we can make use of this energy to replace car fuel and reduce the harmful pollution that is caused. archaebacteria is a wide sector and must be really taken into consideration.

jonny

How would Jesus know? He was born only 2000 years ago.

anon27826

Jesus begs to differ about Archaebacteria being the first organism.

anon25448

Where does archeabacteria form?

anon22731

I need to some some different species of bacteria.

anon22711

archaebacteria are unicellular which means that they consist only of a single cell. as to some of the other questions, i do not quite know because i am only at high school level, a sophomore. I think that archaebacteria are neither producer or consumer for they are almost like parasites but they do not harm the host or help it. Well, one main reason why we desperate archaebacteria from eubacteria is because archaebacteria can survive at extreme temperatures and climate while eubacteria cannot survive in extreme environments. Example, a eubacteria organism such as a virus and an archaebacteria such as a thermophile differ because the virus would die before the temperature of the water it is in reached boiling point but the thermophile would be fine. I do not understand how or why this is so, but I have a theory that archaebacteria can adapt or acclimate to their environment at a rapid rate, I mean, they've been around for ages. Hey, maybe we could, if we studied them further, we could someday survive extreme temperatures and/or climates without the use of expensive equipment.

anon21149

please tell me what makes archaebacterias different from cyanobacteria and eubacteria!

anon21112

are they single celled or multicellular?

anon20262

My question is either archaebacteria can it be called cury thermal or not?

anon19727

What r some other types of Archaebacteria?

anon18201

what are different structures and function of Archaebacteria?

anon11345

could the genome of Pyrococcus abyssi show us how to change human genomes so we could survive freezing temperatures without expensive equipment?? food for thought

anon7623

Is Archaebacteria a producer or consumer????

anon7593

what are the reasons why we separate the archaebacteria from eubacteria?

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