BACK TO PREVIOUS PAGE
Bacteria. Unicellular microscopic plants distributed throughout nature that constitute the smallest living organisms whose only mode of reproduction is by cell (q.v.) division. They exhibit either spherical, rod-shaped, or corkscrew-shaped cell forms. The rod-shaped bacilli are capable of sporulation (q.v.), with the resultant spores (q.v.) showing great resistance to adverse environmental conditions. Bacterial activity accounts for most of the decomposition of organic matter that takes place in nature, as well as for most forms of food spoilage and food poisoning (q.v.).