Bacteria Facts – What You Should Know

Even though we cannot see it, bacteria are everywhere and sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes it is not as it depends on the type of bacteria and what made it grow there.

Bacteria Facts – What You Should Know

There is a lot that goes into the study and understanding of bacteria so we have put together a guide on what bacteria is and anything else you must know about it. 

What Are Bacteria?

Bacteria are single-celled organisms that have a distinct internal structure.

Humans and other multicellular organisms are eukaryotes, meaning that our cells have distinct nuclei that are separated by a membrane.

Bacteria are prokaryotes, which means they lack organized nuclei and other membrane-bound organelles.

Bacteria were the first forms of life on Earth, appearing approximately four billion years ago. Bacteria and archaea were the most common types of organisms on earth for three billion years.

The first multicellular eukaryotes appeared around 1.6-2 billion years ago.

Where Are Bacteria Found?

Bacteria can be found in all habitats on Earth, including rock, soil, oceans, and snow. Some organisms live in or on other organisms, such as plants and animals, including humans.

Bacterial cells outnumber human cells in the human body by a factor of ten and are usually found in the digestive tract.

Some cause crop damage and food spoilage, while others are extremely beneficial in the production of fermented foods like soy sauce yoghurt.

Only a small percentage of bacteria are pathogens or parasites that cause disease in animals and plants.

Bacteria Reproduction

The majority of bacteria reproduce through binary fission. The bacterium, which is a single cell, divides into two identical daughter cells during this process.

When the bacterium’s DNA divides into two, binary fission occurs.

The bacterial cell then divides into two daughter cells, each with identical DNA to the parent cell. Every daughter cell is an exact replica of the parent cell.

Some bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, can divide every 20 minutes when conditions are favorable, such as the correct temperature and moisture.

Bacteria Growing Conditions

Temperature

Bacteria require heat to grow. The temperature at which a food is prepared, cooked, and stored is vital. If it is not done correctly, the food will be unsafe to eat.

The ideal temperature range for bacterial growth is 5-63°C.

This is known as the danger zone because some foods are dangerous when kept at this temperature for extended periods of time.

Moisture

Bathrooms and kitchens, for example, are especially prone to bacterial growth. The presence of water in food also creates an ideal environment for many different varieties of bacteria to grow.

Oxygen

Bacterial growth can be greatly influenced by the presence of oxygen. Many disease-causing bacteria prefer or require an oxygen-rich environment to thrive. Because of this, many commercial foods are vacuum-sealed.

Many types of bacteria and fungi that cause food spoilage are inhibited by vacuum sealing, also known as reduced oxygen packaging.

When the vacuum seal is broken, the shelf life is reduced due to exposure to oxygen and the environment.

pH Levels

Most bacteria reproduce optimally at a pH of 7. Bacterial growth can be stopped or slowed by eating acidic foods with pH levels below 7, or alkaline foods with pH levels above 7.

Time

Bacteria can multiply to millions in a short period of time if the right conditions are provided for growth.

Every 20 minutes, a bacterium divides into two. Above 7, the rate of bacterial growth may be stopped or slowed.

Types Of Bacteria

Types Of Bacteria

Bacteria can take the shape of rods, spheres, or spirals. There are bad bacteria, which we call pathogenic, and they cause diseases, but there are also good bacteria.

Bacterial cells outnumber human cells in our bodies by a factor of ten.

Bacteria play an important role in biotechnology as well. They are also important because, once again, they will assist the body in maintaining a healthy state.

Coccus

Cocci are spherical, round bacteria. Depending on the bacterium and environmental conditions, they can exist as single bacteria or in pairs, chains, or clusters of bacteria.

Cocci are responsible for a wide range of common illnesses.

Spirillum

Spirilla are bacteria that have a corkscrew-like spiral shape. Campylobacter jejuni, a cause of diarrhea  and foodbourne illness, is one such bacterium.

Campylobacter jejuni is commonly acquired in areas with poor sanitation or by eating raw or undercooked chicken.

Vibrio

Members of the vibrio group are one of three types of bacteria with spiral shapes. Vibrio bacteria have a comma shape and look like curved rods. They usually live in water and move in a darting motion.

Cholera is caused by Vibrio cholerae, an intestinal infection that causes severe diarrhea and dehydration.

Drinking contaminated feces-contaminated water spreads cholera, and epidemics can occur following natural disasters and in developing countries due to poor sanitation.

Bacterial Infections

While the majority of bacteria are harmless, some can cause infections. Some of the most common bacterial infections and their symptoms are listed below.

Bacterial infections are most commonly found in the skin, nose, mouth, throat, lungs, urinary tract, and intestines.

Bacterial infections are caused by the transmission (passing) of bacteria. Bacteria can enter your body through other people, the environment, or by eating or drinking contaminated food or water.

When exposed to bacteria, anyone can become ill. A weakened immune system, on the other hand, puts you at greater risk of severe bacterial infections.

Certain medical conditions and medications can weaken your immune system. Bacteria that are normally found in your body can also put you at risk.

A bacterial infection can also spread throughout the bloodstream, resulting in septicemia, a possibly fatal blood infection.

This, in turn, can lead to sepsis, a condition that occurs when your body’s immune system reacts violently to an infection.

Treating A Bacterial Infection

Antibiotics can effectively treat the majority of bacterial infections. They either kill bacteria or prevent them from multiplying.

Antibiotics are medications that are used to treat bacterial infections. They function by interfering with the processes required for bacterial cell growth and proliferation.

It is critical to take antibiotics exactly as directed.

Failure to do so may exacerbate a bacterial infection. Antibiotics do not treat viruses, but they are sometimes prescribed to help prevent a “secondary bacterial infection” in viral illnesses.

Secondary infections occur when a person is already weakened or compromised by another illness.

The antibiotic prescribed by your doctor will be determined by the bacteria that is causing the infection. Broad-spectrum antibiotics are antibiotics that work against a wide variety of bacteria.

Bacteria And Food

Food poisoning is a broad term for when someone consumes food that causes them to become ill. However, there are several types of food poisoning.

Many different types of bacteria and viruses can cause sickness if they contaminate something we eat.

Food spoilage bacteria are the first type of bacteria involved with food, and pathogenic bacteria are the second.

Food Spoilage

These bacteria are easily detected because they cause food to spoil (rancidification). We can taste it, see it, and smell it.

These serve as a warning to not eat this. They are not generally harmful to your health, but they should not be consumed.

These, too, require a large number of colonies to be consumed in order to cause illness.

Pathogenic

These variations of bacteria in food require a very little amount of bacterial colonies to make you ill. These are the bacteria that we are most concerned about because you are not able to taste, see, or smell them.

There is no evidence that these bacteria exist in food.

E.coli

E.coli (Escherichia coli) is a type of indicator organism that is one of the most well known food poisoning bacteria. E.coli is found in our digestive system as well as animals such as cattle.

Most E.coli strains are not pathogens, or bacteria that cause disease.

S.aureus

S.aureus (Staphylococcus aureus) is a gram-positive bacteria that lives on human skin and nasal passages. In small numbers, this bacterium is usually harmless, but in large numbers, it can cause skin infections.

S.aureus is problematic in food because it produces a heat-stable toxin that can cause severe food poisoning. Heat-stable means the toxin can withstand cooking temperatures.

Campylobacter

Campylobacter is a kind of bacteria that is usually found in raw foods or foods that have come into contact with another Campylobacter-infected person or food.

Untreated milk, fruits, poultry, and vegetables are the foods most commonly associated with these bacteria.

Summary

There are many harmful bacteria in the world. They can cause and spread a variety of diseases, including typhoid, cholera, dysentery, diphtheria, pneumonia, tuberculosis, bubonic plague, and many others.

When our bodies are exposed to these types of bacteria, our bodies fight them off with reactions like inflammation.

Luckily, we have access to a lot of different antibiotics which have been fine-tuned over the years in order to tackle these bacterial infections efficiently. 

Not all bacteria are bad though, such as the bacteria that we have living inside of us which are responsible for helping us break down good and make essential vitamins, keeping us healthy.

Jennifer Dawkins

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