Microbes

Microbes Definition

“Microbes are single-celled organisms that are invisible to the naked eye.”

What are Microbes?

Microbes are minute, unicellular organisms that are invisible to the naked eye. They are also known as microorganisms or microscopic organisms as they could only be seen under a microscope. They make up almost 60% of the earth’s living matter. 

The term “microbes” is used to describe several different life forms with different size and characteristics. few of these microbes include:

  • Bacteria
  • Fungi
  • Protists
  • Viruses
  • Archaea

Microbes can be useful as well as harmful. Certain microbes cause severe infections and diseases and can also spoil food and other materials. While others play an important role in maintaining environmental balance.

Let us have a detailed look at the different types of microorganisms and their importance.

Types of Microbes

The different types of microbes are:

Bacteria

  • Bacteria are unicellular, microscopic, prokaryotic microbes that contain no true nucleus.
  • Their cell wall is made up of peptidoglycan. They have a flagellum that facilitates locomotion.
  • Bacteria are of different types depending on their shapes and sizes. For eg., spherical-shaped bacteria are known as cocci; rod-shaped bacteria are known as bacilli; spiral-shaped, spirilla, etc.
  • They reproduce through binary fission, transfer of genetic material through transformation, transduction and conjugation, and through sporulation.
  • Bacteria play an important role in human survival. They breakdown nutrients in the digestive system into simpler forms.
  • Few bacteria such as Rhizobium are involved in nitrogen fixation.
  • They are also used in making antibiotics and can also be used in agriculture as pesticides.

Also Read: Bacterial Genetics

Fungi

  • These can be unicellular or multicellular with the cell wall made of chitin.
  • These are heterotrophic and cannot synthesise their own food.
  • They comprise membrane-bound organelles.
  • Yeasts, moulds, mushrooms are some of the important fungi.
  • They decompose dead plants and animals, extracting nutrients from them.
  • Few fungi are harmful and cause fungal infections like ringworm. The others are used in making antibiotics like penicillin.
  • Fungi such as yeast are used in all baking industries and also in the beer and wine industries.

Also Read: Kingdom Fungi

Viruses

  • Viruses are a connecting link between living and non-living.
  • They are non-cellular microbes composed of protein, nucleic acids, and lipids.
  • They are measured in nanometers with size ranging from 20 nanometers to 250 nanometers and could only be seen with an electron microscope.
  • They contain the core of nucleotides surrounded by a protein coat which could invade living cells.
  • They are active inside host cells and reproduce inside them by infecting living cells.

Protists

  • These are unicellular, microscopic organisms that are neither plants nor animals.
  •  They may be autotrophic or heterotrophic.
  • They reproduce mainly through binary fission or budding.
  • This group includes plant-like protists such as algae, animal-like protists such as amoeba, and fungus-like such as slime moulds.
  • Protists supply us with oxygen and recycle crucial nutrients to make it available to other life forms.

Archaea

  • These are unicellular organisms and have a structure similar to bacteria.
  • Their cell wall is different from bacteria and contains unique lipids that enable them to survive in extreme conditions.
  • They are also found in human gut and skin.

Also Read: Archaebacteria

To know more about what are microbes and the different types of microbes, keep visiting BYJU’S website.

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