Archaebacteria: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 Definition of Archaebacteria
  • 0:40 Archaebacteria Classification
  • 2:05 Examples of Archaea
  • 3:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

Archaebacteria survive and thrive in hostile environments, like hot springs and your intestines. This lesson will explore archaebacteria, describe how they are classified, and then give some examples of these extreme-loving organisms.

Definition of Archaebacteria

Have you ever met someone who was an extremist? They love taking risks and will climb tall mountains, explore the deep sea, or even jump from planes. Well, archaebacteria are the extremists of the microbe-world.

No, they aren't climbing mountains or jumping from planes, and even though you might find them in the deep sea, they are a different type of extremist. Archaebacteria belong to the Domain Archaea and are single-celled organisms that tend to live in extreme environments, like hot springs or in high-salt regions. In fact, these organisms boldly go where others cannot! They have been called extremophiles, which means lover of extremes.

Classification of Archaebacteria

Early in the 1900s, scientists would sort, or classify, living organisms into two categories: plants and animals. By the 1950s and 1960s, scientists began to realize this system was flawed. For example, fungi, like mushrooms, protists, like tiny amoeba, and bacteria didn't seem to fit into the plant or animal classification system, so by the 1970s, scientists decided to make five kingdoms: plant, animal, protist, fungi, and bacteria. This seemed to clear up any classification issues.

Then, in the late 1970s, scientists found that some members of the bacteria kingdom didn't really fit into these classifications either. These misfits were the archaebacteria that could survive in extremes, so scientists changed the system again and made three domains: Eukaryota, Eubacteria, and Archaebacteria.

Archaebacteria earned their own domain and are not actually considered bacteria any longer; that's why scientists now refer to them as archaea and not archaebacteria. In fact, they are as different from bacteria as you are! The name archaea actually means 'ancient' in Greek, and scientists believe these microbes could have been one of the first inhabitants on Earth.

Examples of Archaea

There are several types of archaea, each with its ability to survive in an extreme environment.

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