Eubacteria, also known as the true bacteria, have a bad reputation. They are seen as disease causing agents. Every day new products come out advertising their ability to destroy these dangerous creatures. In reality, only a small percentage of these organisms cause disease. The rest fulfill many important roles in the natural world. Eubacteria are used in the production of wines, cheeses and yogurts and are also part of the process used at wastewater treatment plants.
Eubacteria are responsible for many human diseases, but also help maintain health and form vital parts of all of Earth's ecosystems. These organisms have been around for over 3 billion years and, as result of the oxygen produced from their photosynthesis process, made it possible for air-breathing animals to survive.
Eubacteria are enclosed by a cell wall. The wall is made of cross-linked chains tissue that combines both amino acid and sugar chains. The network structure gives the wall the strength it needs to maintain its size and shape in the face of changing chemical differences outside the cell. Penicillin and related antibiotics prevent bacterial cell growth by inactivating an enzyme that builds the cell wall. Penicillin-resistant bacteria contain an enzyme that chemically modifies penicillin, making it ineffective.
Eubacteria are often classified by their shape. They fall into three main shape categories. Spherical eubacteria are called cocci. They can occur as a single bacterium or be arranged in a pair, chain or cluster of bacteria. These bacteria cause many different types of common diseases. Rod-shaped eubacteria are known as bacilli; they look like cylinders, arranged singly or in chains. The third is spiral or helically-shaped eubacteria called spirilla.
Cause abscesses, boils, and other infections of the skin. Cocci can often be found in the nose and on the skin without causing disease, but it is also responsible for causing conditions such as pneumonia, meningitis and toxic shock syndrome. Another form of cocci that originates in the throat or skin, include strep throat and scarlet fever. This type bacterium causes bacterial meningitis, an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, after entering the body through the nose or throat.
E coli is an example of this rod-shaped bacteria that normally lives in your intestinal tract without causing disease. However, a few strains of E. coli do cause disease that is spread typically by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Another form of bacilli enters the respiratory tract and causes diphtheria. Diphtheria causes a thick coating on the back of the nose and throat, making it difficult to swallow or breathe, followed by swelling of the neck and potentially death. This bacterium grows in long chains and can infect you through broken skin, ingestion or inhalation.
When this bacterium enters the human body it causes diarrhea. This condition is typically acquired in places where sanitation is poor or by eating raw or undercooked poultry. When this example of bacteria is found in your stomach, inflammation and ulcers result.
Archaea vs. Bacteria
Levels of Organization
The Five Kingdoms