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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the evolutionary history of prokaryotes
  • Describe the basic structure of a typical prokaryote
  • Identify bacterial diseases that caused historically important plagues and epidemics
  • Describe the uses of prokaryotes in food processing and bioremediation

Prokaryotes are present everywhere. They cover every imaginable surface where there is sufficient moisture, and they live on and inside of other living things. There are more prokaryotes inside and on the exterior of the human body than there are human cells in the body. Some prokaryotes thrive in environments that are inhospitable for most other living things. Prokaryotes recycle nutrients—essential substances (such as carbon and nitrogen)—and they drive the evolution of new ecosystems, some of which are natural while others are man-made. Prokaryotes have been on Earth since long before multicellular life appeared.

Prokaryotic diversity

The advent of DNA sequencing provided immense insight into the relationships and origins of prokaryotes that were not possible using traditional methods of classification. A major insight identified two groups of prokaryotes that were found to be as different from each other as they were from eukaryotes. This recognition of prokaryotic diversity forced a new understanding of the classification of all life and brought us closer to understanding the fundamental relationships of all living things, including ourselves.

Early life on earth

When and where did life begin? What were the conditions on Earth when life began? Prokaryotes were the first forms of life on Earth, and they existed for billions of years before plants and animals appeared. Earth is about 4.54 billion years old. This estimate is based on evidence from the dating of meteorite material, since surface rocks on Earth are not as old as Earth itself. Most rocks available on Earth have undergone geological changes that make them younger than Earth itself. Some meteorites are made of the original material in the solar disk that formed the objects of the solar system, and they have not been altered by the processes that altered rocks on Earth. Thus, the age of meteorites is a good indicator of the age of the formation of Earth. The original estimate of 4.54 billion years was obtained by Clare Patterson in 1956. His meticulous work has since been corroborated by ages determined from other sources, all of which point to an Earth age of about 4.54 billion years.

Early Earth had a very different atmosphere than it does today. Evidence indicates that during the first 2 billion years of Earth’s existence, the atmosphere was anoxic    , meaning that there was no oxygen. Therefore, only those organisms that can grow without oxygen— anaerobic    organisms—were able to live. Organisms that convert solar energy into chemical energy are called phototrophs . Phototrophic organisms that required an organic source of carbon appeared within one billion years of the formation of Earth. Then, cyanobacteria    , also known as blue-green algae, evolved from these simple phototrophs one billion years later. Cyanobacteria are able to use carbon dioxide as a source of carbon. Cyanobacteria ( [link] ) began the oxygenation of the atmosphere. The increase in oxygen concentration allowed the evolution of other life forms.

Questions & Answers

Cellular respiration
Lucy Reply
what are the characteristics of living things
Ruth Reply
Movement Respiration Nutrition/Feeding Irritability/Sensitivity Growth Excretion Reproduction Deat/Life span
What makes children from the same father and mother sometimes don't look alike?
identification of problems
Nana Reply
what happens in the process of raising the human arms
what is biology
Brandi Reply
first step in scientific method
In an investigation the pancreatic duct of a mammal was blocked.It was found that the blood sugar regulation remained normal while food digestion was impaired.Explain
Mac Reply
To begin with, obstruction of pancreatic duct will alter the blood sugar level as the juices responsible for glucose regulation will be rendered inconsequential. This will in turn affect the rate of digestion and absorbtion of digested food substances by the Villus .
characteristics of algae
Algae are eukaryotic organisms. Algae do not have roots and stems. Algae have chlorophyll and helps in carrying out photosynthesis.
Cell wall is the rigid layer enclosed by membranes of plants and prokayortic cell, it maintains the shape of the cell and serve as a protective barrier.
chizoba Reply
ECOLOGY: is a branch of biology that studies the interactions among organisms and their biophysical environment, which includes both biotic and abiotic components. 
via nutrient cycles and energy flows. For instance, the energy from the sun is captured by plants through photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a biological process through which plants manufacture their own food with the aid of light from the sun and frc sources (e.g. cabon dioxide and water)
What is cell wall
Taiwo Reply
cell wall is the outemost rigid covering of the plants ,that provides protection to the plants.
what is ecology, ecosystem?
Nkeng Reply
what is digestive system
Lucky Reply
digestive system is the human syman system that icludes esopuges stomach o braking down of food in to useful substance to our body
definition of biology basics
Ritu Reply
the potential energy of a molecule can be inquired by their number of?
Jesus Reply
what is the full meaning of RNA
Ayo Reply
ribose nucleic acid
Ribonucleic acid
Ribo Nucleic Acid
ribonucleic acid
discuss, describe at least three (3) methods that could be used to improve photosynthesis..
Marvel Reply
Improve the efficiency with which plants capture light Improve the efficiency by which plants turn light into energy The smart canopy concept develop crop planting schemes that increase the penetration of sunlight into lower-level leaves.
what is osmosis
Aon Reply
movement of water molecule from higher to lower concentration through a semipereable membrene.
what of in the case of solute
osmosis is the movement of molecules from higher concentration region to lower concentration region through semi-permeable membrane.
in case of solute means that water moves from the region with lower solutes to the region with higher solute. so it is vice versa to water.
osmosis is the movement of water molecule from a region of lower concentration to a region of higher concentration through a semi permeable membrane

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Source:  OpenStax, Concepts of biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11487/1.9
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