Difference Between Bacteria and Fungi

Microbes are an integral part of every ecosystem. Primarily there are seven kinds of microbes living on the earth. They differ from each other in their cellular composition, modes of locomotion, morphology and other aspects. Please note, these various aspects of bacteria and fungi are a crucial topic for your NEET.

Bacteria, viruses and fungi are examples of microbes that live in soil, water, air and almost everywhere. While some microbes are harmful, others are beneficial and eco-friendly. Diversity of microbes is responsible for retaining the diversity of the ecosystem they thrive in. 

Bacteria and fungi are the two of the most significant organisms that play a crucial role in daily life. These two belong from different branches of microbes and show distinct characteristics. 

Details Related to Bacteria

Bacteria are the microscopic prokaryotic organism. They are believed to be the first living organism on the earth emerging around 3.5 billion years ago. Bacteria are primarily found in three shapes which are spiral, rod-shaped and spherical. They are either heterotrophs (depends on the host for food) or autotrophs (prepares own food through photosynthesis or chemosynthesis). 

They breed asexually by conjugation or binary fission method. Most bacteria are harmless, and they help in several activities. For example, they can trap nitrogen for plants, helps in fermentation processes in making curd, cheese, yoghurt, etc. however, some of them are responsible for an illness like tuberculosis, cholera, etc. 

Components of Bacteria

Below listed are the various components of bacteria.

  • Glycocalyx

  • Pilus

  • Nucleoid

  • Mesosome

  • Flagellum

  • Cell wall

  • Cell membrane

  • Fimbriae

  • Granules/inclusion

  • Ribosome

  • Endospore

Please note this image above to understand the components and structure of bacteria.

Details about Fungi

Fungi are eukaryotic organism whose existence can be traced back to 900 million years ago. They are either unicellular or multicellular. Fungi are heterotrophs, which means, they feed on dead and decaying substances. For this reason, they are called saprophytes. 

Fungi remain inside the thread-like structure, namely hyphae. Later on, this hyphal structure matures and forms mycelium. They breed sexually and also asexually through spores formation, branch, budding and fragmentation. 

This microbe is widely used to make antibiotics. Some of them are also utilised in baking bread and other edibles. However, also note some fungi are harmful and cause diseases in plants and animals. You must have seen some blackish-green growth on the bread sometimes. That results from a fungus attack that is responsible for spoiling food. 

Components of Fungi 

A few characteristics of fungi are mentioned below.

  • Cytoplasm

  • Nucleus

  • Mitochondria

  • Golgi bodies

  • Lysosome and peroxisomes

  • Cell wall

  • Cytoplasmic membrane

  • Ribosome

  • Endoplasmic reticulum

The following table elucidates the key differences between bacteria and fungi. 

A Comparative Study Between Bacteria and Fungi

Points of comparison

Bacteria

Fungi

Definition


Bacteria are unicellular microorganism, coming under prokaryotic classification. It is the most ancient living being on earth with simple cell structure. 

Fungi are unicellular organism, coming under the classification of eukaryotic. Notably, they possess a complicated cell structure




Characteristics


  • Cells does not contain organelles.

  • Nucleus is absent.

  • Cell wall consists of peptidoglycan.

  • Does contain organelles.

  • Nucleus is present.

  • Cell wall consists of chitin.

  • Shapes


    Three types of shape

    • Spherical

    • Rod-like

    • Spiral

    Found in different shapes. But usually thread-like called hyphae. 

    Cell membrane


    Exists below cell wall.

    It exists in its typical location.

    Presence of sterols


    Absent (exception - mycoplasma) 

    Present in cell membrane. 

    Type of reproduction

    Asexual 

    Sexual and asexual

    Source of nutrition

    Mostly heterotrophs even though, some are autotrophs.

    Heterotrophs and specifically saprophytes. 

    Locomotion



    Through flagella.

    Non-motile 

    Host


    Does not require host to survive.


    Survives on host.

    Source of energy

    Sugars, fats and protein.

    Consume both existing and dead organisms. 

    Suitable pH level for growth

    Neutral 6.5-7

    Acidic atmosphere 4-6 

    Diseases they spread

    Tuberculosis, diphtheria, strep throat, cholera, tetanus, rabbis, etc.  

    Candidiasis, aspergillosis, ring worm, athlete’s foot, etc. 

    Resistance 

    Griseofulvin 

    Antibiotics like Penicillium, chloramphenicol, etc.  

    Producer/decomposer 

    Can be both producer and decomposer. 

    Decomposer 

    Examples 

    E.Coli, lactobacillus, faecal bacteria. 

    Mushrooms, mould, yeasts. 


    Significance of Bacteria and Fungi

    • Fungi bacteria aid in balancing ecological diversity.

    • Being saprophytes, fungi decompose natural substances and provide nutrients to the soil.

    • Nitrogen-fixing bacteria supply adequate nitrogen in plants.  

    • Fungi and bacteria are widely used in food processing industry and manufacturing medicines. 

    • As both of them exist on earth’s surface for a long period of time, they carry several shreds and evidence of evolution. 

    Did You Know?

    • There is a fungus called honey mushroom that is regarded as the largest living organism in the world. It ages about 2400 years and stretches over almost 2000 acres!

    • Deinococcus radiodurans is a bacterium that can withstand radiation and often called the superhero of the bacteria world!

    State True/False

    1. Fungi store food material in form of glycogen. 

    2. The shape of coccus bacteria is generally rod-like. 

    Answers: 1-True, 2-False. 

    Don’t Stress, Do Your Best and Forget the Rest!

    By this time, you must be aware of the several aspects of bacteria and fungi. Needless to say, you can expect quite a few vital questions in your NEET from this topic. Also, if you are an MBBS aspirant, conceptual topics like importance of bacteria and fungi in medicine will assist you to excel in your future endeavours. 

    Notably, along with preparing for this upcoming exam, take care of your mental and physical health. Try to maintain a healthy balance between study and leisure for enhanced efficiency. Take small breaks in between and reward yourself with periodic recreation to keep your mind refreshed. 

    All the best!

    FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

    1. What are the similarities between bacteria and fungi?

    Ans. Though they are two different organisms, they share some common characteristics. For example, both of them contain DNA as genetic material. Consequently, both bacteria nd fungi are responsible in causing several diseases too.

    2. Which fungi can kill bacteria?

    Ans. There are a few fungi that can kill harmful bacteria. For example, Acremonium chrysogenum and Penicillium chrysogenum are used to produce antibiotics which kill gram-positive bacteria by damaging its cell walls. 

    3. What are examples of good bacteria?

    Ans. A few examples of good bacteria are lactobacillus, E.Coli, Clostridium, etc. 

    4. Which food has anti-fungal properties?

    Ans. Surprisingly some food items have natural anti-fungal properties. This list includes garlic, aloe vera, oregano oil, turmeric, etc.