domains of life

archaea and bacteria

The Archaea and Bacteria domains ( Figure 1.1) are both entirely composed of small, single-celled organisms and seem very similar, but they also have significant differences. Both are composed of prokaryotic cells, which are cells without a nucleus. In addition, both domains are composed of species that reproduce asexually ( asexual reproduction) by dividing in two. Both domains also have species with cells surrounded by a cell wall, however, the cell walls are made of different materials. Bacterial cell walls contain the polysaccharide peptidoglycan. Lastly, Archaea often live in extreme environments including hot springs, geysers, and salt flats. Bacteria do not live in these environments. The Group A Streptococcus organism (left) is in the domain Bacteria, one of the three domains of life. The Halobacterium (right) is in the domain Archaea, another one of the three domains.



All of the cells in the domain Eukarya keep their genetic material, or DNA, inside the nucleus. The domain Eukarya is made up of four kingdoms: 1. Plantae: Plants, such as trees and grasses, survive by capturing energy from the sun, a process called photo- synthesis. 2. Fungi: Fungi, such as mushrooms and molds, survive by "eating" other organisms or the remains of other organisms. These organisms absorb their nutrients from other organisms. 3. Animalia: Animals also survive by eating other organisms or the remains of other organisms. Animals range from tiny ants to the largest whales, and include arthropods, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals ( Figure 4. Protista: Protists are not all descended from a single common ancestor in the way that plants, animals, and fungi are. Protists are all the eukaryotic organisms that do not fit into one of the other three kingdoms. They include many kinds of microscopic one-celled (unicellular) organisms, such as algae and plankton, but also giant seaweeds that can grow to be 200 feet long. Plants, animals, fungi, and protists might seem very different, but remember that if you look through a microscope, you will find similar cells with a membrane-bound nucleus in all of them. These are eukaryotic cells. These cells also have membrane-bound organelles, which prokaryotic cells lack. The main characteristics of the three domains of life are summarized in Table 1.1. Multicelluar Cell wall Nucleus (Membrane- Enclosed DNA) Membrane-Bound Organelles Archaea No Yes, without peptidogly- can Bacteria No Yes, with peptidoglycan No No Eukarya Yes Varies. Plants and fungi have a cell wall; animals do not. Yes No No Yes Diversity of Animals. These photos give just an inkling of the diversity of organisms that belong to the animal kingdom. (A) Sponge, (B) Flatworm, (C) Flying Insect, (D) Frog, (E) Tiger, (F) Gorilla.


the domains of life

Lets explore the domain, the least specific category of classification. All of life can be divided into three domains, based on the type of cell of the organism: 1. Bacteria: cells do not contain a nucleus. 2. Archaea: cells do not contain a nucleus; they have a different cell wall from bacteria. 3. Eukarya: cells do contain a nucleus.

instructional diagrams

No diagram descriptions associated with this lesson


eukarya is separated from the other domains by the presence of a nucleus in their cells.

-->  a. true

b. false

eukarya is composed of only multicellular organisms.

a. true

-->  b. false

microscopic single-celled protists are members of which domain?

a) bacteria

b) archaea

-->  c) eukarya

d) protista

which is not a member of domain eukarya?

a) a maple tree

b) a portobello mushroom

c) a blue whale

-->  d) a spirochaete

which of the following capture energy by photosynthesis?

-->  a) a maple tree

b) a portobello mushroom

c) a blue whale

d) all of the above

which of the following absorb their nutrients from other organisms?

a) a maple tree

-->  b) a portobello mushroom

c) a blue whale

d) all of the above

if you find a single-celled organism living in a geyser, it probably belongs to which domain?

a) bacteria

-->  b) archaea

c) eukarya

d) geyseria

diagram questions

No diagram questions associated with this lesson