Bacterial Growth

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Biology II


The Effects of Antibiotics on Bacterial Growth

Bacteria are the most common and ancient microorganisms on earth. Most bacteria are microscopic, measuring 1 micron in length. However, colonies of bacteria grown in a laboratory petri dish can be seen with the unaided eye.

There are many divisions and classifications of bacteria that assist in identifying them. The first two types of bacteria are archaebacteria and eubacteria. Both groups have common ancestors dating to more than 3 billion years ago. Archaebacteria live in environments where, because of the high temperature, no other life can grow. These environments include hot springs and areas of volcanic activity. They contain lipids but lack certain chemicals in their cell wall. Eubacteria are all other bacteria. Most of them are phototrophic, i.e. they use the sun's energy as food through the process of photosynthesis.

Another classification of bacteria is according to their need of oxygen to live.

Those who do require oxygen to live are considered aerobes. The bacteria who don't use oxygen to live are known as anaerobes.

The shape of specific bacteria provides for the next step in the identification process. Spherical bacteria are called cocci; the bacteria that have a rodlike shape are known as bacilli; corkscrew shaped bacteria are spirilla; and filamentous is the term for bacteria with a threadlike appearance.

Hans Christian Joachim Gram, a Danish microbiologist, developed a method for distinguishing bacteria by their different reaction to a stain. The process of applying Gram's stain is as follows: the bacteria are stained with a violet dye and treated with Gram's solution (1 part iodine, 2 parts potassium iodide, and 300 parts water). Ethyl alcohol is then applied to the medium; the bacteria will either preserve the blue color of the original dye or they...