The Life of Prokaryotic Cells
For the prokaryotes, life arose on earth about four billion years ago; they are the original inhabitants of this planet. For approximately two billion years, they were the only form of life on earth. They have since then continued to adapt and flourish on an evolving earth. They are by far the simplest of cells and were the first to evolve. Out of all organisms, prokaryotes are the smallest and least complex cells. They are too small to be seen except with the aid of a microscope. The prokaryote cell represents the simplest grade of organism of life. About 1,500 distinct species of prokaryotes are recognized. This number is probably less that one percent of all the species in nature.
A prokaryote is single celled organism that is distinguished by the lack of a distinct nucleus, mitochondria, or other membrane bound organelle. It is organized into functional compartments where all of their cell contents are swished around together. Rather than carrying out life processes by themselves, several similar and different cells gather together to carry out specific processes. They rely on many cells working together; therefore, they are dependent on other cells.
Prokaryotes do not develop or differentiate into multi-cellular forms. Some of them grow in filaments or masses of cells; however, each cell in the colony is identical and very capable of existing independently. They may possibly be adjacent to one another due to not separating after cell division or because of being enclosed in a slime secreted by the cells. Typically there is no continuity or communication between prokaryotic cells.
Prokaryotic cells are incredibly tough when it comes to environments. They have been found in all of the outer limits of life on earth. Basically, one could say that they are present in all environments that support life. However, they have also been found in environments that support no other form of life. They thrive off of living in habitats that are too extreme for other forms of life. They hold every record for living in the coldest of cold and hottest of hot environments, not to mention the most acidic, most salty, and most pressurized. They choose some of the most incredible places to live such as miles beneath the earth in bare rock, under glaciers, floating around clouds, and miles down the sea floor that reach temperatures greater than 100 C. These cells are by far the toughest of tough when it comes to living arrangements.
Prokaryotes play a huge role in the biosphere. The lives of plants and animals are dependent on them. Housed in these cells are the origins of the plant cells. It is believed that prokaryotic cells may have produced most of the earths atmospheric oxygen. They have a beneficial relationship with both plants and animals. The metabolic activities of prokaryotes in soil habitats have an enormous impact on soil fertility. These impacts include such things as agricultural practices and crop yields. They can also be used to increase crop yield, plant resistance to disease, or even to cure or prevent plant disease. As far as the global environment is concerned, prokaryotes are essential in driving the cycles that make up the living system. These cycles include the carbon, oxygen, sulfur, and nitrogen cycles. They can also be used to create antibiotics to fight infectious diseases, as well as producing components for vaccines.
As you can see prokaryotes are essential to human life, without these particular cells, life would not be known by many. To all of those that are dependant on the intake of oxygen, it would not have been created. Soil would have never seen the fertility that it knows today, and we would have to rely on different sources to cure diseases. The world is dependant on these cells. They are what allowed life to be lived as it is today.