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Prokaryote

A prokaryote is a unicellular organism that lacks a membrane-bound nucleus, mitochondria, or any other membrane-bound organelle. The word prokaryote comes from the Greek πρό (pro, 'before') and κάρυον (karyon, 'nut' or 'kernel'). Prokaryotes are divided into two domains, Archaea and Bacteria. Species with nuclei and organelles are placed in the third domain, Eukaryota. Prokaryotes reproduce without fusion of gametes. The first living organisms are thought to have been prokaryotes. In prokaryotes, all the intracellular water-soluble components (proteins, DNA and metabolites) are located together in the cytoplasm enclosed by the cell membrane, rather than in separate cellular compartments. Bacteria, however, do possess protein-based bacterial microcompartments, which are thought to act as primitive organelles enclosed in protein shells. Some prokaryotes, such as cyanobacteria, may form large colonies. Others, such as myxobacteria, have multicellular stages in their life cycles. This picture is a labelled diagram of a typical prokaryotic bacterial cell.

Diagram credit: Ali Zifan

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