Prokaryotes are organisms that contain a single cell. Thus, they are called unicellular organisms. They do not have a nucleus; neither do they have other membrane-bound organelles.
The question is, are humans prokaryotes?
As we answer the question, are human prokaryotes, we should understand that the human body has a good number of prokaryotes. The human body is a combination of both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The human body contains a large number of prokaryotes. In the real sense of it, the number of prokaryotes in the human body exceeds the number of human cells present in the body. Prokaryotes do not only live in the human body. They are everywhere around us and in our environment.
Features Of The Prokaryotic Cells
There are several features of the prokaryotic cell. It is these features that make it similar to its counterpart, the eukaryotic cells. It is also these features that differentiate it from the eukaryotic cell. Before diving into analyzing the prokaryotic cell against the backdrop of the eukaryotic cell, let us examine the features of the prokaryotic cell on its own.
Prokaryotic cells are organisms that have a single cell. As a result of this, it is elementary in structure. It does not have a clearly defined nucleus. It also does not have defined organelles like the mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, chloroplasts, Golgi complex, etc.
The DNA of a prokaryotic cell is in the nucleoid. Prokaryotic cells exist in harsh and extreme conditions. It is primarily due to the presence of endospore that enables it to thrive in these unfavorable conditions.
Types Of Prokaryote
Prokaryotic cells are of two kinds. The types of prokaryotic cells are Bacteria and Archaea. While these two are both types of prokaryotic cells, there are fundamental features that separate them from each other.
The cell walls present in a prokaryotic cell is one of the underlying differences between the bacteria and the archaea. There is a different composition of cell walls in the bacteria, unlike what we have in the archaea. It is the composition of the cell wall that determines the shape of the prokaryotic cell. It means that the difference in cell wall leads to a difference in form between the bacteria and the archaea.
When we refer to the difference in the composition of cell walls, it means that the cell wall of bacteria has peptidoglycan. It is unlike the cell walls of the archaea that do not contain peptidoglycan.
Other differences exist between the bacteria and the archaea. However, it is essential to take note of the similarities they share. They are both types of prokaryotic cells, which mean that they are both unicellular. Also, their cell morphology is variable, and they both have lipid bi-layer as their cell membrane type, although the archaea could also be lipid monolayer.
Are Prokaryotes Beneficial To Us?
One benefit that we can attribute to the existence of prokaryotes is that it is very instrumental in breaking down waste. As little as the prokaryotes, it has one of the most important jobs to carry out. They act as decomposers that break down waste, thereby helping to renew the energy that sustains the world’s ecosystem. Their role includes recycling all forms of organic waste, including the remains of dead animals and humans.
Prokaryotes help in cleaning up oil spills in our environment. When there is oil spillage, and the process of cleaning up is to commence, the procedure is usually to introduce bacteria like prokaryotes into the atmosphere. The role prokaryotes play is to breakdown down the spilled oil into carbon dioxide. Thus, it is not surprising that the companies that deal in bioremediation breed these micro-organisms and use them to clean the environment.
From the moment a human being is born, prokaryotes cover every part of the outer body. They help to keep the body immune from diseases. They also act as the protector of the body’s immune system. They keep away organisms that cause infections and help the body to be less vulnerable to attacks.
Prokaryotes are also useful in food processing. The process of fermenting and producing food and drinks like bread, yogurt, sourdough bread, etc. is as a result of the presence of prokaryotes. It helps in the production of several kinds of food as well as medicines. Thus, prokaryotes are present in several of our foods.
Disadvantages Of Prokaryotes
We usually say that whatever has an advantage also has a disadvantage. The statement is very true when we are referring to prokaryotes.
One primary disadvantage of prokaryotes is that some categories are harmful to the human body. They cause various kinds of diseases in the human body. We can explain this by saying that we have good and bad bacteria in our bodies. The good bacteria help to protect us from sickness, while the bad bacteria make us sick.
Prokaryotes In Different Habitats
Prokaryotes exist in varying environmental conditions, ranging from the extreme to the moderate. They exist in severely cold environments that are lower than 15º Celsius. They also exist in environments with extremely high temperatures that could be over 45º Celsius.
It is the differences in habitats that make them have classes based on the temperature under which they exist. We have the psychrophile, the mesophile, and the thermophile.
The Difference Between Prokaryotes And Eukaryotes
Prokaryotes are only one out of the two types of cell that exists in the world. The other cellular organism is a eukaryote. Prokaryotes and eukaryotes are similar in several ways. In the same vein, they also share some differences.
The similarities between these organisms are that they are mostly unicellular organisms, and both have vesicles and vacuoles. They are different in so many ways.
One of the most apparent differences between prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells is that a nucleus is absent in a prokaryotic cell; instead, it has a free-floating material. The eukaryotic cell, on the other hand, has a nucleus. It is the nucleus that contains the genetic material of the cell.
Another difference between prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells is in their sizes. Prokaryotic cells are generally smaller in size than the eukaryotic cells. The size of a prokaryotic cell is usually between 0.5 um to 5.0 um. The side of a eukaryotic cell, on the other hand, is generally between 5 um to 100 um.
There is the absence of membrane-bound organelles in prokaryotic cells. On the other hand, eukaryotes have a lot of membrane-bound organelles. They include the mitochondria, chloroplast, Golgi complex, and the endoplasmic reticulum. In eukaryotic cells, the mitochondria are responsible for food conversion from one form to another; the chloroplast is responsible for stimulating the process of photosynthesis. The Golgi complex is responsible for the processes leading up to the secretion of the protein. The endoplasmic reticulum helps to carry and transport the synthesized protein as a result of the activities of the others mentioned above.
There are ribosomes in both prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells. However, the ribosomes in eukaryotic cells are more significant than the ones found in a prokaryotic cell. The ribosome found in a prokaryotic cell is not organized. Instead, they are floating freely all over the cytoplasm. However, this is not the same for its counterparts contained in a eukaryotic cell. The ribosomes in a eukaryotic cell are membrane-bound. We can find them in the nuclear membrane, endoplasmic reticulum, and also in the cytoplasm.
The process of reproduction in a prokaryotic cell is different from what is obtainable in the eukaryotic cell. The primary feature to note is that the reproductive process of a prokaryotic cell is asexually using the method of binary fission. The eukaryotic cell, on the other hand, reproduces sexually. It does this through the method of meiosis. These various means of reproduction imply that the reproduced prokaryotic cells are exactly like the parent cells, while the reproduced eukaryotic cells are different from the parent cells.
We can trace the origin of the prokaryotic cells to more than 3.5 billion years in history, while we can only trace that of the eukaryotic cell to more than 1.2 billion years in time. One can say that the prokaryotic cells have always been in existence since the beginning of the world. However, it is interesting to note that the prokaryotic cells exist in primitive forms. The eukaryotic cells, on the other hand, are the more advanced ones and exist in advanced forms.
Prokaryotic cells have cell walls that help to give shape to the organism. Eukaryotic cells, on the other hand, do not always have cell walls. While plants usually have cell walls, others like the vertebrate do not have cell walls.
We have been able to answer for ourselves the question, are human prokaryotes? Prokaryotes exist in the human body, and we can say that their existence is beneficial to humans, especially in the area of protecting the human body and enhancing its immunity from diseases. The relationship between the human body and the prokaryotes is a symbiotic one.
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