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What are Archaebacteria?

Michael Anissimov
Updated May 21, 2024
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Archaebacteria are a type of prokaryote, that is, a unicellular organism without a cell nucleus. They make up the kingdom Archae, one of the main kingdoms of life. These organisms are difficult to classify because they have similarities to both normal bacteria and the larger eukaryotes. In structure, they are like unicellular prokaryotes, but the genetic transcription and translation underlying their creation is similar to that of the more complex eukaryotes.

Able to live in a variety of environments, archaebacteria are known as extremophiles. Certain species are able to live in temperatures above boiling point at 100° Celsius or 212° Fahrenheit. They can also thrive in very saline, acidic, or alkaline aquatic environments. They employ a variety of chemical tricks to accomplish this, with one species, halobacteria, able to convert light into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) or cell energy, using a non-photosynthetic process. Halobacteria live in waters almost completely saturated with salt, and unlike photosynthetic plants, are incapable of extracting carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Archaebacteria have a size between 1/10th of a micrometer to over 15 micrometers. (A human hair is about 100 micrometers in width.) Some possess flagella, but these are substantially different in structure than the flagella bacteria have. In 1999, Pyrococcus abyssi, one of the toughest archaebacteria on Earth, had its genome sequenced. Further study of its resilience to extreme temperatures is expected to have applications in the biotechnology industry. Archaebacteria are non-pathogenic, living in and around other organisms but not infecting them. Some are able to withstand pressures of above 200 atmospheres, allowing them to thrive deep within the Earth.

Archaebacteria were not recognized as a distinct form of life from bacteria until 1977, when Carl Woese and George Fox determined this through RNA studies. However, the kingdom Archae has a close relationship to the kingdom Eukarya, the two sharing many genetic trees and common traits. One of the first places Archae were discovered was at the boiling hot springs in Yellowstone National Park.

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Michael Anissimov
By Michael Anissimov , Writer
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated All The Science contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism to his articles. An avid blogger, Michael is deeply passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. His professional experience includes work with the Methuselah Foundation, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and Lifeboat Foundation, further showcasing his commitment to scientific advancement.

Discussion Comments

By anon981306 — On Dec 11, 2014

To answer some questions: All bacteria are unicellular. All bacteria are prokaryotic, They are heterotrophs, autotrophs, and decomposers.

By anon307243 — On Dec 04, 2012

What does an archaebacteria have in common with a white blood cell, antibody, and a red blood cell?

By anon296500 — On Oct 11, 2012

I want to know how is it harmful to humans?

By anon253438 — On Mar 09, 2012

I need to know about the respiration of archaebateria.

By anon244743 — On Feb 02, 2012

Some examples of archaebacteria are methanogens,

halophiles and thermoaciophiles.

By anon244742 — On Feb 02, 2012

@anon7593: Archaebacteria live in extreme places like hot springs and hot sulfur springs. Archaebacteria are also autotrophs and use chemosynthesis instead of photosynthesis.

By anon220853 — On Oct 09, 2011

what do they eat?

By anon147211 — On Jan 28, 2011

what is the reason for archaebacteria?

By anon131012 — On Nov 30, 2010

Archaebacteria have a cell wall, it just doesn't have any peptidoglycan, but eubacteria do have peptidoglycan.

By anon113711 — On Sep 25, 2010

Archeabacteria live in extreme conditions where any other living organisms could not survive. that is the difference between archeabacteria and eubacteria.

By anon111629 — On Sep 17, 2010

What is the type of circulatory system that has archeobacteria?

By anon106012 — On Aug 23, 2010

are they heterotrophic or autotrophic?

By anon101628 — On Aug 04, 2010

how can archeobacteria survive without a cell wall?

By anon78628 — On Apr 19, 2010

How are the organisms in archeabateria useful to humans?

By anon78326 — On Apr 18, 2010

whats the taxonomy of an archaebacteria? like what would an example of one be?

By anon75819 — On Apr 07, 2010

Are they heterotroph or autotroph?

By anon72478 — On Mar 23, 2010

How are they important to humans?

By anon59897 — On Jan 10, 2010

why do scientists think that Archaebacteria were the first forms of life on our planet?

By anon57992 — On Dec 29, 2009

Archaebacteria are very similar to prokaryotes. But they differ from the cell wall and the cell membrane. In prokaryotic cell membrane a phospholipid bi layer is present. But in archaebacteria a single layer of phospholipid is available. That's a reason why they could live in very limited resource environments.

By anon54228 — On Nov 28, 2009

do the archaebacteria have endospores?

By anon49629 — On Oct 21, 2009

What was their contribution to life on earth?

By anon47922 — On Oct 08, 2009

are archaebacteria harmful or helpful to our environment?

By anon46888 — On Sep 29, 2009

What do archaebacteria have to do with humans as in diseases and sickness? What do they eat?

By anon46519 — On Sep 26, 2009


By tangut — On Sep 18, 2009

can some body tell me what biology is about?

By anon45673 — On Sep 18, 2009

can somebody help me find the reason why archaebacterias were the first thing to exist on the world?

By anon37333 — On Jul 18, 2009

Help! what are at least five cell structures of an archaebacteria cell?

By anon28867 — On Mar 23, 2009

How do they benefit and or harm the environment?

By anon28796 — On Mar 22, 2009

well, if some archaebacteria can produce ATP without photosynthetic processes. maybe we can make use of this energy to replace car fuel and reduce the harmful pollution that is caused. archaebacteria is a wide sector and must be really taken into consideration.

By jonny — On Mar 10, 2009

How would Jesus know? He was born only 2000 years ago.

By anon27826 — On Mar 06, 2009

Jesus begs to differ about Archaebacteria being the first organism.

By anon25448 — On Jan 29, 2009

Where does archeabacteria form?

By anon22731 — On Dec 09, 2008

I need to some some different species of bacteria.

By anon22711 — On Dec 09, 2008

archaebacteria are unicellular which means that they consist only of a single cell. as to some of the other questions, i do not quite know because i am only at high school level, a sophomore. I think that archaebacteria are neither producer or consumer for they are almost like parasites but they do not harm the host or help it. Well, one main reason why we desperate archaebacteria from eubacteria is because archaebacteria can survive at extreme temperatures and climate while eubacteria cannot survive in extreme environments. Example, a eubacteria organism such as a virus and an archaebacteria such as a thermophile differ because the virus would die before the temperature of the water it is in reached boiling point but the thermophile would be fine. I do not understand how or why this is so, but I have a theory that archaebacteria can adapt or acclimate to their environment at a rapid rate, I mean, they've been around for ages. Hey, maybe we could, if we studied them further, we could someday survive extreme temperatures and/or climates without the use of expensive equipment.

By anon21149 — On Nov 11, 2008

please tell me what makes archaebacterias different from cyanobacteria and eubacteria!

By anon21112 — On Nov 10, 2008

are they single celled or multicellular?

By anon20262 — On Oct 28, 2008

My question is either archaebacteria can it be called cury thermal or not?

By anon19727 — On Oct 18, 2008

What r some other types of Archaebacteria?

By anon18201 — On Sep 17, 2008

what are different structures and function of Archaebacteria?

By anon11345 — On Apr 14, 2008

could the genome of Pyrococcus abyssi show us how to change human genomes so we could survive freezing temperatures without expensive equipment?? food for thought

By anon7623 — On Jan 30, 2008

Is Archaebacteria a producer or consumer????

By anon7593 — On Jan 30, 2008

what are the reasons why we separate the archaebacteria from eubacteria?

Michael Anissimov

Michael Anissimov


Michael Anissimov is a dedicated All The Science contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology...
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