Ensign, J. C. Department of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.
Last reviewed:March 2020
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- Relationship to other life forms
- Bacteria and disease
- Models for biochemistry and genetics
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The study of bacteria. The science of bacteriology is a specialized branch of microbiology concerned with bacteria (Fig. 1). Although bacteria are different in some important respects from all other kinds of cells, their basic processes of physiology and genetics are the same as in all forms of life. One unusual property of bacteria as a whole is their physiological diversity. Some bacteria live in the total absence of oxygen and convert complex carbohydrates to acids and alcohols (fermentation), sulfate to hydrogen sulfide, nitrate to nitrogen gas, and hydrogen plus carbon dioxide to methane gas; other bacteria carry out photosynthesis by mechanisms nearly identical to plants; some bacteria can grow and multiply by using energy obtained from oxidation of sulfur, ammonia, hydrogen, or iron, while obtaining carbon for cell synthesis from carbon dioxide; and some can obtain their needed nitrogen from the gas in air. See also: Bacteria; Bacterial physiology and metabolism; Fermentation; Methanogenesis (bacteria); Microbiology
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