Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Scientists aim for new weapons in fight against superbugs

New weapons are needed to fight drug-resistant bacteria, one of the biggest threats to global health. By working on new antibiotics or finding ways to revive existing ones in our medical arsenal, scientists aim to avoid a ...

Medical research

Compound in breast milk fights harmful bacteria

Researchers at National Jewish Health and the University of Iowa have identified a compound in human breast milk that fights infections by harmful bacteria while allowing beneficial bacteria to thrive. Human breast milk has ...

Health

Raw milk: the benefits are unclear but the dangers are real

According to some of its online proponents, unpasteurised or "raw" milk can "heal the gut", boost the immune system, prevent allergies, give you healthier skin and even contribute to bodybuilding. Perhaps more common is the ...

Health

How to make your own healthful sauerkraut

(HealthDay)—Pickled foods are still on trend and so are do-it-yourself recipes since homemade fermented foods taste much better than store-bought versions.

Overweight & Obesity

Gut bacteria is key factor in childhood obesity

New information published by scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Health suggests that gut bacteria and its interactions with immune cells and metabolic organs, including fat tissue, play a key role in childhood obesity.

Medical research

Innovative drugs to tackle antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has become a global health threat, increasingly impacting the effective prevention and treatment of various infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. According to a report ...

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Bacteria

Actinobacteria (high-G+C) Firmicutes (low-G+C) Tenericutes (no wall)

Aquificae Bacteroidetes/Chlorobi Chlamydiae/Verrucomicrobia Deinococcus-Thermus Fusobacteria Gemmatimonadetes Nitrospirae Proteobacteria Spirochaetes Synergistetes

Acidobacteria Chloroflexi Chrysiogenetes Cyanobacteria Deferribacteres Dictyoglomi Fibrobacteres Planctomycetes Thermodesulfobacteria Thermotogae

The bacteria [bækˈtɪərɪə] (help·info) (singular: bacterium)[α] are a large group of unicellular microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals. Bacteria are ubiquitous in every habitat on Earth, growing in soil, acidic hot springs, radioactive waste, water, and deep in the Earth's crust, as well as in organic matter and the live bodies of plants and animals. There are typically 40 million bacterial cells in a gram of soil and a million bacterial cells in a millilitre of fresh water; in all, there are approximately five nonillion (5×1030) bacteria on Earth, forming much of the world's biomass. Bacteria are vital in recycling nutrients, with many steps in nutrient cycles depending on these organisms, such as the fixation of nitrogen from the atmosphere and putrefaction. However, most bacteria have not been characterized, and only about half of the phyla of bacteria have species that can be grown in the laboratory. The study of bacteria is known as bacteriology, a branch of microbiology.

There are approximately ten times as many bacterial cells in the human flora of bacteria as there are human cells in the body, with large numbers of bacteria on the skin and as gut flora. The vast majority of the bacteria in the body are rendered harmless by the protective effects of the immune system, and a few are beneficial. However, a few species of bacteria are pathogenic and cause infectious diseases, including cholera, syphilis, anthrax, leprosy and bubonic plague. The most common fatal bacterial diseases are respiratory infections, with tuberculosis alone killing about 2 million people a year, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. In developed countries, antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections and in agriculture, so antibiotic resistance is becoming common. In industry, bacteria are important in sewage treatment, the production of cheese and yoghurt through fermentation, as well as in biotechnology, and the manufacture of antibiotics and other chemicals.

Once regarded as plants constituting the class Schizomycetes, bacteria are now classified as prokaryotes. Unlike cells of animals and other eukaryotes, bacterial cells do not contain a nucleus and rarely harbour membrane-bound organelles. Although the term bacteria traditionally included all prokaryotes, the scientific classification changed after the discovery in the 1990s that prokaryotes consist of two very different groups of organisms that evolved independently from an ancient common ancestor. These evolutionary domains are called Bacteria and Archaea.

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