Fungi and bacteria

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 found protecting the human intestine. 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 Coccidiodes immitis, which causes respiratory problems. Among the pathogenic bacteria we have Yersinia pestis , which causes the bubonic plague, and Salmonella typhi, which causes typhoid fever.

Cell typeEukaryoteProkaryotic
Type of organismUnicellular or multicellularUnicellular
CoreHere I’mAbsent
ChromosomesMore than 11
SizeFrom 2 µm to metersDiameter: 0.2 to 2 µm
Length: 1 to 6 µm
OriginA billion years ago3 billion years ago.
ReproductionAsexual: fragmentation, budding, sporulation

Sexual: with female and male gametes

Asexual by bipartition or binary fission.
NutritionHeterotroph: by absorption of organic compounds.Autotrophs: they can use photosynthesis or inorganic molecules to produce food.

Heterotrophic: by absorption.

Cellular wallFormed by chitin or glucansFormed from peptidoglycan.
  • Chitridiums: the most primitive fungi.
  • Zygomycetes: the fungi of bread mold.
  • Ascomycetes: yeasts and fungi such as truffles.
  • Basidiomycetes – the mushrooms like mushrooms that we most familiarly recognize.

  • Gram-positive: staphylococci, lactobacilli.
  • Gram-negative: Enterobacteriaceae
ExamplesCandida albicans (causing canker sores)

Saccharomyces cerevisiae (producer of bread, beer and wine)

Amanita muscaria (wild poisonous mushroom)

Escherichia coli (Gram-negative intestinal)

Rhizobium leguminosarum (bacteria del suelo)

Vibrio cholerae (causing cholera)



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

Fungi were long believed to be plants; however, fungi cannot photosynthesize, so they depend on other organisms for food. Saprophytic fungi feed on decaying matter.

There are fungi that can be associated with algae that do produce photosynthesis, forming lichens. Other fungi associate with the roots of plants, forming mycorrhizae. Finally, there are parasitic fungi that feed on another living being, causing damage to it.

We use mushrooms in our diet. Wine and bread go through the fermentation process of the Sacharomyces yeast ; mushrooms, oyster pleorotum, and mushrooms are edible mushrooms that can be grown, and some cheeses require a mushroom to have their special flavor.

Mushrooms are also used for other biotechnological applications. For example, the antibiotic penicillin is made 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. Antifungals are used to treat these infections.

Characteristics of mushrooms

  • They are micro or macroscopic : there are fungi that can only be observed through a microscope, such as bread yeast and the producer of canker sores Candida albicans . Others are visible to the naked eye, such as the mold and the honey fungus Armillaria solidipes , which extends beyond 8 km 2 .
  • 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 the bread fungus 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 breaking it down to 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 to a mycelium
  • They produce spores : spores are particles that fungi use to reproduce. They are much smaller than the seeds of plants.
  • They have a cell wall : outside the plasma membrane, fungi have a rigid cell wall, composed of chitin and glucans.

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The bacteria

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

The bacterium is made up of a plasma membrane that surrounds the cytoplasm, where the components that the bacterium uses to multiply and function are found. Most bacteria also have a cell wall, which protects and shapes the bacteria.

Most bacteria are beneficial to nature. In the soil, its function is to release the elements so that the plants can absorb them through the roots. Humans learned to use some bacteria to make medicine, clean up oil spills, and make food like yogurt.

However, there are bacteria that cause disease, such as Vibrio cholerae , which causes severe diarrhea called cholera. In these cases, antibiotics are used, which are drugs that prevent the growth of bacteria.

Bacteria characteristics

  • They are microscopic beings : they can only be seen using a microscope.
  • They do not have a nucleus : bacteria do not have a nucleus, so their genetic material is free in the cytoplasm.
  • They are autotrophic or heterotrophic : some bacteria can produce their own food, such as cyanobacteria that photosynthesize, while others are heterotrophic, which means that they obtain their food from other species.
  • They are unicellular : bacteria are independent cells that fulfill all the functions necessary to survive. They can grow together to form colonies or form chains.
  • They have a cell wall : this structure protects the bacterial cell and gives it stability. The cell wall in bacteria is made up of chains of sugars linked by amino acids known as peptidoglycans.
  • They reproduce by division : a bacterium to reproduce has to divide, forming two daughter cells.

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