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Fungi and bacteria: difference and characteristics

Fungi and bacteria are living things found all over the planet. The main difference is found in the type of cell: fungi are made up of eukaryotic cells or cells with a nucleus, while bacteria are cells without a nucleus or prokaryotes.

Some fungi and bacteria are useful to humans. Lactobacilli are bacteria that are protecting the human gut. On the other hand, penicillin and other antibiotics to fight infections are obtained from some fungi. Yeasts, which are a type of fungi, are used in the preparation of bread and wine.

However, we also have disease-causing fungi and bacteria that we know as pathogens. Examples of pathogenic fungi are the Coccidiodes immitis which causes respiratory problems. Among the pathogenic bacteria we have the Yersinia pestiscausative of the bubonic plague, and the Salmonella typhi which produces typhoid fever.

difference fungi bacteria
Control Eukarya bacteria
kingdom fungus bacteria
Cell type eukaryote prokaryote
Type of organism Unicellular or multicellular unicellular
Core present Absent
Chromosomes More than 1 1
size From 2 µm to meters Diameter: 0.2-2 µm
Length: 1 to 6 µm
origin A billion years ago 3000000000 years ago.
reproduction

Asexual: fragmentation, budding, sporulation

Sexual: with female and male gametes

Asexual by bipartition or binary fission.
nutrition Heterotroph: by absorption of organic compounds.

Autotrophs: can use photosynthesis or inorganic molecules to produce food.

Heterotroph: by absorption.

Cellular wall Made up of chitin or glucans Made up of peptidoglycan.
classification
  • Chytridia: the most primitive fungi.
  • Zygomycetes: the bread mold fungi.
  • Ascomycetes: yeasts and fungi such as truffles.
  • Basidiomycetes: the fungi like mushrooms that we recognize more familiarly.
  • Gram-positive: staphylococci, lactobacilli.
  • Gram-negative: enterobacteria
examples

Candida albicans (causing canker sores)

Saccharomyces cerevisiae (producer of bread, beer and wine)

Amanita muscaria (poisonous wild mushroom)

Escherichia coli (intestinal Gram-negative)

Rhizobium leguminosarum (soil bacteria)

Vibrio cholerae (causing cholera)

the fungi

different species of fungi
Different species of fungi that we can get in nature.

Fungi are eukaryotic living beings, that is to say, the cells have a nucleus where the genetic information is obtained. They comprise a wide variety of organisms including yeasts, edible fungi such as mushrooms, poisonous fungi and molds, which make up the kingdom Fungi.

For a long time it was believed that fungi were plants; however, fungi cannot photosynthesize, so they depend on other organisms for food. Saprophytic fungi feed on decaying matter.

There are fungi that can associate with algae that do photosynthesize by forming lichens. Other fungi associate with plant roots forming mycorrhizae. Finally, there are parasitic fungi that feed on another living being, causing it harm.

We use fungi in our food. Wine and bread go through the yeast fermentation process Saccharomyces; champignons, oyster mushrooms, and mushrooms are edible fungi that can be grown, and some cheeses need a fungus to get their special flavor.

Fungi are also used for other biotechnological applications. For example, the antibiotic penicillin is obtained from the fungus Penicillium.

Mycoses are infections caused by pathogenic fungi. For example, athlete’s foot is a mycosis that occurs on the toes, favored by humidity. Antimycotics are used to treat these infections.

Characteristics of fungi

  • They are micro or macroscopic: there are fungi that can only be seen through a microscope, such as bread yeast and canker sores Candida albicans. Others, on the other hand, are visible to the naked eye, such as mold and honey fungus Armillary solidipeswhich extends beyond 8 km2.
  • They are heterotrophs: they are not capable of photosynthesis, so they need to feed on organic compounds.
  • They can be unicellular or multicellular: yeasts are unicellular fungi while bread yeast is multicellular. Multicellular fungi have a structure that fulfills the basic functions known as mycelium. In general the mycelium is a network of underground threads.
  • They are saprophytes: fungi decompose organic matter by breaking it into simpler molecules, contributing to the recirculation of elements in nature.
  • They can reproduce sexually and asexually: some fungi multiply by mitosis, fragmenting, budding and sporulating. Others attach a cell of a mycelium
  • They produce spores: spores are particles that fungi use for reproduction. They are much smaller than plant seeds.
  • They present a cell wall: outside the plasma membrane, fungi have a rigid cell wall, composed of chitin and glucans.

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the bacteria

petri plates with bacterial colonies
Some bacteria can be grown in special media to diagnose infections.

Bacteria are cellular microorganisms that are found everywhere: in the water, on the ground, on your skin, and inside your intestines. They are the smallest living beings on the planet.

The bacterium is formed by a plasma membrane that surrounds the cytoplasm, where the components that it uses to multiply and function are found. Most bacteria also have a cell wall, which protects and gives it shape.

Most bacteria are beneficial to nature. On the ground, their function is to release the elements so that the plants can absorb them through the roots. Humans learned to use some bacteria to produce medicine, clean up oil spills, and produce foods like yogurt.

However, there are bacteria that cause diseases, such as Vibrio cholerae, which causes intense diarrhea called cholera. In these cases, antibiotics are used, which are medicines that prevent their growth.

Characteristics of bacteria

  • They are microscopic beings: can only be seen using a microscope.
  • They have no nucleus: bacteria do not have a nucleus, so their genetic material is free in the cytoplasm.
  • They are autotrophs or heterotrophs: Some bacteria can produce their own food, such as cyanobacteria that carry out photosynthesis, while others are heterotrophs, meaning they get their food from other species.
  • They are unicellular: Bacteria are independent cells that perform all the functions necessary to survive. They can grow together forming colonies or form chains.
  • They present a cell wall: this structure protects the bacterial cell and gives it stability. The cell wall in bacteria is composed of chains of sugars linked by amino acids known as peptidoglycans.
  • They reproduce by division: a bacterium to reproduce must divide to form two daughter cells.

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Ana Zita Fernandes

PhD in Biochemistry from the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research (IVIC), with a degree in bioanalysis from the Central University of Venezuela.

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