So I already told you guys about how I reproduce, but here’s a couple of diagrams to help explain it a bit more. The first one is showing cell division, and the second one is showing conjugation, while the third shows how they connect to each other in a life cycle. Click for full view!
So again, a quick summary of cell division: insides of a cell are duplicated, cell splits in half down the middle and both resulting cells are identical. Repeat.
And conjugation: Donor cell connects with receiver cell, shares some genetic info, and separates. Both cells are now potential donor cells.
The third picture shows a rough idea of my entire life cycle (bacteria don’t have the best art skills, I’m afraid), with both possible types of reproduction.
Wow, I think I’ve told you most everything there is to know about me! I hope you learned something interesting :)
And now, reproduction! Fun times, right?
So my reproduction is actually pretty awesome because I don’t have just one way of reproducing- I have two. As the situation permits, I can reproduce both through conjugation and through cell division.
Conjugation is a type of bacterial reproduction in which genetic material is exchanged through direct cell-to-cell contact. This is basically the bacterial equivalent of sexual reproduction. Basically, one cell with something called a pilus attaches to a cell without one. This ‘donor’ cell sends some genetic information (this could be resistance to a disease, new abilities, or any number of other things) to the other, and then they break apart. The ‘receiver’ cell now obtains its own pilus, and both are now able to exchange genetic material with other cells.
Cell division is… well, almost exactly what it sounds like. In short, a cell makes exact copies of everything inside it (DNA and all that), then splits its main body in half, creating a perfect clone. Now there are two cells when there used to be one. Who knows how many of me are floating around out there, identical.
Sweet, so I’ve got a little bit more to tell you about my life cycle, but that can wait. Later!
Alrighty, so as a bacteria, you can imagine that I don’t exactly eat the same way that you humans do. So that’s what I’m going to talk about now!
First of all, I’m what’s called a heterotrophic organism. That basically just means that I get my food from an outside source (outside of me, that is). In my case, I get my food from my host organism (which in this case, is you!). I absorb carbon through something called biosynthesis, using the organic molecules that I get from my host organism. Carbon is basically my favourite thing, because I need it to survive. My very existence is composed largely of carbon molecules that hold important stuff together- but you don’t need to know that.
That’s everything you need to know about what I eat, so. Yep. :D
Ahh, home sweet home. How about I tell you a bit about my habitat?
So I’ve mentioned it before, but I never really expanded on where I live. Mostly you can find me in the gastrointestinal (or GI) tract of humans (as well as some other warm-blooded animals). You may know it as the intestines, haha. Anyways, what you may find surprising is that I’m not only in there when someone is sick- I’m in there basically all the time. I’m not always a harmful bacteria (regardless of what you may have heard otherwise) and actually help humans with digestion and provide them with some sweet vitamins. I only start to harm people when I get lost and end up somewhere I’m not supposed to be, whoops.
Well that’s all for my home; more info to come!
Some pictures of me! Click for full view :)
Anyways, how about I tell you about them, and how they relate to my physical properties.
So first of all, as you can see from the pictures, I’m kind of tube-shaped. Bacteria like this are known as bacilli, which is just a fancy way of describing the shape of them.
The next important thing to notice is the colour. In most of my pictures, you can see I’m sort of pink or reddish. This is because I’m a gram-negative bacteria. The reason I’m shown as pink is because when I’m stained with crystalviolet in a gram test, I come out pink. This means that I have a thin protein layer on my cell wall. It means I’m basically easier to kill (yikes) than other bacteria that are gram-positive (who would have a thicker protein layer).
As you can see on the second and third pictures, I have this long,tail-like thing coming off of my main body. These are called flagella, and are used for movement. Not all bacteria have them, but I do! :D
You can’t see it in these pictures, but I’m also a prokaryotic cell- which I mentioned earlier, but didn’t really explain. It basically means that I’m a simple kind of cell; I don’t have a nucleus, the brain that a lot of cells can’t function without.
Alrighty, that’s all I have to say about that for now. More info to come!
Alright, so that’s just a fancy way of saying… well, my family tree! You see, I don’t really know my family (just because of the way I reproduce, more on that later), so knowing where I’m sorted in terms of taxonomy is about as close as I get!
For those of you who don’t know how taxonomy (the science of classifying organisms, basically) works, there are eight levels. The first- and largest- groups are known as Domains. Domains then split into Kingdoms, which split into Phylums, which split into Classes. Classes split into Orders, then Families, then Genuses, and finally Species. Each of these levels get progressively more specific, including fewer and fewer organisms until only a single species remains.
Anyways. Let’s take a look at my taxonomy, shall we?
Species: Escherichia coli
Well yeah, there you go :) Next time: some stuff about my physical properties. :D
My full name is Escherichia coli, but most people just call me by my common one- E. coli. Um, well, this is kind of awkward, but I should probably get it out of the way. Right now. So. I’m a bacteria, wow. It’s a pretty great existence, being a prokaryote. None of that complex nonsense that eukaryotes have to deal with. I just live life doing what I want- which mainly consists of chilling in lower intestines, but I’ll talk about that more later.
Whoa, is that a human intestine? I’ve got to go, more about me later!