Microorganisms: Definition of Microorganisms, Types of Microorganisms

Get top class preparation for AP Biology right from your home: fully solved questions with step-by-step explanation- practice your way to success.

Definition of Microorganisms

  • Those minute organisms that are invisible to the naked eye are called Microorganisms.

  • A microorganism may exist either in single celled form or in a colony of cells.

  • These organisms can be unicellular or multicellular.

  • They are widespread in nature and are beneficial to life.

  • Some of them are harmful as well.

Six Major Types of Microorganisms

Six major types of Microorganisms

Six Major Types of Microorganisms

Loading Image

Bacteria

  • These are unicellular organisms.

  • They exist in four major shapes:

    • Bacillus (rod shape)

    • Coccus (spherical shape)

    • Spirilla (spiral shape)

    • Vibrio (curved shape)

  • They can be classified as either Gram-positive or Gram-negative based on their cell wall structure.

  • Classification based on the response to gaseous oxygen:

    • Aerobic (living in the presence of oxygen)

    • Anaerobic (living without oxygen

Archaea

  • They differ from true bacteria in their cell wall structure and lack peptidoglycans.

  • They are also known as Archaebacteria.

  • Classification based on the habitats:

    • Methanogens (methane-producing organisms)

    • Halophiles (archaeans that live in salty environments)

    • Thermophiles (archaeans that live at extremely hot temperatures)

    • Psychrophiles (cold-temperature Archaeans)

Algae

  • They are unicellular or multicellular eukaryotes.

  • They are also called cyanobacteria or blue-green algae.

  • They live in water, damp soil, and rocks.

  • They are also responsible for producing oxygen and carbohydrates used by other organisms.

Protozoa

  • They are unicellular eukaryotes.

  • They have a nucleus, complex organelles.

  • They are useful in mineralizing nutrients and making them available to the plants and other soil organisms.

  • They feed on bacteria and regulate the bacterial population.

Viruses

  • They consist of a nucleic acid core (DNA or RNA) surrounded by a protein coat.

  • They are no cellular entities.

  • They cannot reproduce outside a host cell.

  • They cannot metabolize their own.

Useful Microorganisms

  • These microorganisms help in the production of several food items, medicines, manufacturing, and research.

  • Some of the useful microorganisms are Bacteria, Fungi, and Protozoa.

  • They are a significant part of the ecosystem and participate in the production of minerals and gases like oxygen, carbon dioxide.

  • They feed on the dead and decaying matters.

  • One of the important examples is that of the biogeochemical cycle such as the nitrogen cycle.

  • These organisms can be further used in various industries to produce various metabolites such as ethanol, riboflavin, lactic acid, and butanol.

Harmful Microorganisms

  • These are the microorganisms responsible for food spoilage, diseases, and infections.

  • Bacteria are one of the most harmful microorganisms responsible for several infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, cholera, etc.

  • Fungi can cause skin infections and allergies.

  • Viruses may cause AIDS, Influenza, etc.

  • Microorganisms multiple on food and release toxic products causing food poisoning.

FAQs

Q 1. What is the simple definition of Microorganism?

Answer: Those minute organisms that are invisible to the naked eye are called Microorganisms.

Q 2. What are the six major types of microorganisms?

Answer: Six major types of microorganisms are namely Bacteria, Archaea, Fungi, Protozoa, Algae, and Viruses.

Q 3. What are the four major shapes into bacteria exist?

Answer: The four major shapes into which a bacterium exist are namely Bacillus (rod shape), Coccus (spherical shape), Spirilla (spiral shape), and Vibrio (curved shape).