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Introduction to Organisms

Author(s): Deanne Erdmann, MS

The Kingdom Monera - Archaebacteria

A research team led by Carl Woese at the University of Illinois, first recognized the distinction between bacteria and archaea, also known as archaebacteria. By analyzing RNA in subunits of ribosomes, they defined the early branching of the prokaryotes into Archaea and Eubacteria. In addition to their unique composition of ribosomal RNA, archaea also are distinguished by the lack of peptidoglycan in their cell walls and their unusual membrane lipids not found in other organisms. Unlike traditional bacteria, archaebacterial genes contain introns similar to those found in eukaryotes.

Archaea live in the most extreme or harsh environments on Earth and are classified based on the environment in which they can be found. Methanogens produce energy from organic compounds in the presence of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and water. They produce methane and can not live in an oxygen-containing environment. Thermophiles live in very hot water found in areas around hot springs and ocean hydrothermal vents, and Halophiles are found in water with a high saline content, like the Great Salt Lake in Utah.