Single-cell organisms are more than just microscopic organisms. They come in a variety of different forms and they’ve been found on every continent on Earth, including Antarctica. It’s very difficult to classify these single-cell organisms because of how diverse they are.
What Exactly are Unicellular Organisms?
Unicellular organisms are microscopic and can’t be seen with the naked eye. They are the simplest type of organism and can be classified into prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. Prokaryotes do not have a nucleus or membrane-bound organelles, but they do possess DNA inside their cells. An example of a prokaryote is bacteria because it does not possess a nucleus or any other type of membrane bound organelle but it does contain DNA in its cell. On the other hand, Eukaryotes are organisms that have a nucleus and membrane-bound organelles. Unlike prokaryotes, eukaryotes have their DNA inside the nucleus. Humans and all multicellular lifeforms are classified as eukaryotes because they all have a nucleus and membrane-bound organelles. Moreover, many unicellular organisms are also classified as eukaryotes as they meet all the necessary criteria for being classified as such.
Useful Unicellular Organisms
The most common single-celled organisms are bacteria. This is because they are found in every ecosystem on earth, from deep sea vents to frigid mountain peaks. Bacteria are often considered to be pathogenic, but most are actually beneficial to humans. They produce food, help with digestion, and help maintain the natural balance in our environment. Bacteria can also help synthesize vitamins for the body, and also boost the immune system. Amoeba are single-celled organisms without a nucleus, but they are one of the most common living organisms on Earth. They are close relatives of bacteria and fungi, and they can be found in every environment on Earth. These helpful cells help maintain a balance in our ecosystem by decomposing organic material. Moreover, amoeba performs functions similar to the white blood cells found in our body – i.e., it consumes bacteria. Though they hunt indiscriminately, scientists are looking for ways to program them such that they eat only harmful bacteria.
Role of Unicellular Organisms in the Food Industry
One of the major industries where unicellular organisms are used is the food industry. They are used to ferment food – which is the process of converting carbohydrates to alcohols and acids using enzymes produced by yeast or bacteria. They can also be used to create flavor and taste in different types of food like cheese for example. Moreover, fermentation helps with preservation of foods. They do this by producing substances that keep the food from spoiling too quickly, like lactic acid for example.
The human race has evolved to depend on microbes for survival. These tiny creatures exist in every corner of the earth and play a large role in our health and well-being. Microbes break down food, provide us with nutrients, and produce antibiotics we use to fight disease. They also protect us from harmful substances that could otherwise cause illness or infection. Explore other fascinating topics, from classification of viruses and prions to global warming and greenhouse effect by visiting BYJU’S Biology.