Microbial terminology explained
- The chemical process in cells and tissues, by which organisms obtain energy. Aerobic means that the respiration takes place using oxygen.
Alga (algae, plural)
- A single-celled or multicellular eukaryotic, photosynthetic organism.
- The basic building block of a protein.
- A chemical that kills or inhibits the growth of bacteria and is used to treat bacterial infections.
- A Y-shaped protein made by certain white blood cells which is produced by the body’s immune system in response to a foreign substance (antigen). The antibody destroys the antigen.
- A foreign substance such as a pathogen that stimulates the body’s immune system to produce antibodies.
Archaean (archaea, plural)
- A prokaryotic, single celled organism.
Bacterium (bacteria, plural)
- A prokaryotic, single celled organism.
- A type of asexual reproduction in which the cell divides into two separate daughter cells each with identical DNA.
- A gas that is produced from the anaerobic (without oxygen) decomposition of organic matter.
- The use of microbes to break down toxic or unwanted substances.
- A type of asexual reproduction in which an outgrowth forms from the parent cell. It then usually pinches off to form a separate independent cell.
- The protein coat surrounding a virus.
- The basic unit of all living things.
- A green photosynthetic pigment usually found in organelles called chloroplasts.
- A long continuous pieces of DNA that carries genetic information.
Cilium (cilia, plural)
- A tiny hair-like structure on the surface of some micro-organisms or cells which beats rhythmically to either propel trapped material out of the body, for example in the lungs, or make a free-living microbe move.
- The name given to some fungi and soil bacteria that break down dead animals and plants and their waste products into simpler substances called nutrients.
- Deoxyribonucleic acid: the store of genetic information inside living cells and many viruses.
- A protein that facilitates a biochemical reaction by speeding up the rate at which it takes place within cells.
- A single-celled or multicellular organism which has a true membrane-bound nucleus and membrane bound organelles.
- A microbe that positively thrives in environments that would kill other organisms.
- The conversion of organic compounds such as carbohydrate into simpler substances by microbes, usually under anaerobic conditions (with no oxygen present). Energy is produced.
Flagellum (flagella, plural)
- A long thin appendage present on the surface of some cells such as bacteria and protoctista which enables them to move.
- Any illness caused by eating food contaminated by pathogenic microbes.
- Changes in appearance, flavour, odour, and other qualities of the food due to microbial growth which causes it to deteriorate and spoil by decay.
Fungus (fungi, plural)
- A eukaryotic, non photosynthetic, spore forming organism. They range from single celled organisms to very complex multicellular organisms.
- Basic unit of inheritance located on a chromosome. A gene is a piece of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that contains the instructions for the production of a specific protein.
- The time taken for a population of micro-organisms to double in number.
- A rise in the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere due to the increased emission of greenhouse gases which traps more heat in the atmosphere, causing the planet to warm up.
- A cell that is infected by a virus or another type of micro-organism.
Hypha (hyphae, plural)
- A very fine thread that is the basic structure of filamentous fungi.
- A reaction of tissue to irritation, injury, or infection. It is a beneficial process as it destroys or contains the pathogen within a small area enabling the healing process to begin.
- Lymph nodes linked by a network of small tubes spread throughout the body that transport the lymph fluid.
- The physical rupture of a cell
- A cell which is produced as part of a normal immune response. These cells remember a specific antigen and are responsible for the rapid immune response, production of antibodies, on exposure to subsequent infections by that particular antigen.
- Micro-organism that produces methane.
- A small living thing. The group includes bacteria, archaea, protozoa, algae, fungi and viruses.
- A multicellular filamentous fungus.
- A branched network of fungal hyphae.
Normal body flora
- Microbes that have adapted to living on the body, are usually present and rarely cause home.
- The nucleus is the control centre of the cell containing chromosomes.
- A membrane enclosed structure, in cells, that has a specialised function.
- An organism that causes disease.
- A white blood cell that can surround engulf (by phagocytosis) and destroy invading micro-organisms including viruses and bacteria. There are two separate groups - macrophages and neutrophils.
- A process that occurs in plants, algae and some bacteria called the cyanobacteria that traps the sun’s light energy and uses it to fix carbon dioxide into organic compounds.
- Green plants, algae and some bacteria called the cyanobacteria which produce their own food by a process called photosynthesis. They are found at the beginning of the food chain.
- An organism that has a simple cell structure without a membrane bound nucleus or organelles.
- A folded long – chain molecule consisting of amino acids. Each protein has a special function. Proteins are required for the structure, function, and regulation of an organism’s cell/cells, tissues, and organs.
Protozoan (protozoa, plural)
- A eukaryotic, single celled organism that usually lacks chlorophyll.
Pseudopodium (pseudopodium, plural)
- A temporary extension of the cytoplasm of an amoeboid cell. It is used in both motility and feeding.
- A cyclical process by which essential elements are released into the environment where they are then reused.
Sporangium (sporagia plural)
- A sac containing spores that develops from the fruiting body of a fungus.
- A general term for a dormant stage in an orgainisms life cycle. Spores enable survival of adverse conditions, distribution, and reproduction. There are many types which may be produced both asexually and sexually.
- any substance that is poisonous to other organisms
- A special type of medicine that is given to both people and animals to artificially increase immunity to a particular disease and to prevent an infectious disease from developing.
- A spikey coat that covers the virus’s protein coat or capsid.
- An infectious particle that relies on the cellular machinery of the host cell to grow and replicate.
- A single-celled fungus.