By: Trinity Scribner

Characteristics of Bacteria

Most bacteria are unicellular organisms that lack chlorophyll. Bacteria are one of the smallest living organisms on earth. However, viruses are still smaller. Bacteria are classified as prokaryotes. There are three shapes of bacteria, they are: coccus (spherical), bacillus (rod shaped), and spiral-shaped. The bacterial cell wall provides structural support to the cell. Most bacteria move by using their flagella, similar to a tail. Yet, other bacteria move by using their appendages. Depending on the type of bacteria, they either obtain energy by ingesting other organisms or producing their own energy. Bacteria are asexual. Most bacterial reproduction occurs in a process called binary fission. Binary fission is when the cell simply replicates itself creating an identical bacteria.
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How are bacteria harmful and helpful?

Learn Biology: Good Bacteria vs. Bad Bacteria

Life Threatening Bacteria

Three life threatening bacteria in the past have come in three plagues. One plague was known as the Justinian Plague, which eventually killed over 25 million people. This was the first form of what is known as the Bubonic Plague. Later on in history came the Black Plague, which is the most known out of the three. This plague killed an estimated 75 to 200 million people in Europe. This disease was caused by bacteria that fleas carried around during this time. And lastly, The Modern Plague, was spread by rats on steamships. The Modern Plague started in China, continued to Hong Kong, and is now seen in the U.S. in some cases. This plague is also highly treated. It however still led to over 20 million deaths.


Treatment for plagues, for example the Bubonic Plague (Black Death), include many antibiotics. Some swallowed, some injected, and sometimes even involves quarantine. A very common antibiotic that is used is known as Doxycycline, which is swallowed or injected.
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