Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Want to block flu transmission? Targeting nasal bacteria may help

Antibiotics won't help you recover from the flu, but an antibiotic ointment helped St. Jude Children's Research Hospital scientists identify a possible strategy for slowing influenza infections. The work appeared in the journal ...

Immunology

Allergic immune responses help fight bacterial infections

Allergy is one of the most common diseases in Europe, it is estimated that more than 150 million Europeans suffer from recurring allergies and by 2025 this could have increased to half of the entire European population.1 ...

Health

Tips to avoid food poisoning during COVID-19

Labor Day weekend may be the unofficial end to summer cookouts and barbecues. It's also a good reminder that food safety should be a priority to keep you and your family safe from infection.

Neuroscience

Tag team gut bacteria worsen symptoms of multiple sclerosis

Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences (IMS) have discovered that a particular combination of microorganisms in the gut can worsen symptoms in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis. The study published ...

Pediatrics

Probiotics for premature babies provide microbiome boost

Probiotics can improve the microbiome in premature babies, according to the results of a major new study from the Quadram Institute, the University of East Anglia and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH).

Obstetrics & gynaecology

'Oral' bacteria may disrupt the balance of the vaginal microbiome

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an imbalance of the vaginal microbiome that can lead to adverse health outcomes, including increased likelihood of potential pathogens colonizing the vagina, yet the mechanisms underlying these ...

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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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