They are as unrelated to human beings as living things can be, but bacteria are essential to human life and life on planet Earth. Although they are notorious for their role in causing human diseases, from tooth decay to the Black Plague, there are beneficial species that are essential to good health.
The bacterium, despite its simplicity, contains a well-developed cell structure which is responsible for some of its unique biological structures and pathogenicity. Many structural features are unique to bacteria and are not found among archaea or eukaryotes. Because of the simplicity of bacteria relative to larger organisms and the ease with which they can be manipulated experimentally, the cell structure of bacteria has been well studied, revealing many biochemical principles that have been subsequently applied to other organisms.
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