Bacteria are microscopic unicellular organisms found almost everywhere on the Earth. These are critical for ecosystems as they effortlessly recycle nitrogen, carbon, and sulfur. These can also cause harmful diseases to humans, animals, and plants. Some bacterial species can grow in extreme conditions like high temperature, low pH, and high pressure.
Fungi are microscopic unicellular or multicellular organisms. Most fungi inhabit soil and dead organisms and play a crucial role in mineralizing organic carbon. Fungi are opportunistic pathogens. But mainly, these decay and decompose food, dead animals, and plants.
The significant difference between bacteria and fungi is their cell; bacteria are prokaryotes, and fungi are eukaryotes. In addition, bacteria and fungi have differences in their growth requirements, cell wall components, size, morphology, colony characteristics, and treatment methods.
Although bacteria (Monera) and fungi (Mycota) have many differences, they have similarities as well. Both have true cell walls and many beneficial properties, and some species of both kingdoms can cause serious diseases.
Similarities Between Bacteria and Fungi
- Both are microscopic organisms.
- Fungi and bacteria have a cell wall made up of polysaccharides. Although the components of the cell walls are different, all species of bacteria and fungi have a true cell wall.
- Some bacteria like Lactobacillus are used as probiotics, Staphylococcus epidermidis as normal skin flora that protects skin from infection, and Escherichia coli in the gut benefit humans. Likewise, yeast is helpful in the production of alcohol and bakery items.
- Some species of both phyla can cause serious illness. Like aspergilloma (fungus ball) by Aspergillus species, a fungus that can seriously damage the lungs of an infected human. Likewise, cholera by Vibrio cholerae and typhoid by Salmonella species are some of the life-threatening water-borne bacterial diseases.
- Both of the organisms can be saprophytic or parasitic. E coli and Spirochetes are saprophytic bacteria, whereas almost all fungi are saprophytic.
- Both bacteria and fungi are heterotrophs, meaning they can grow and feed on plants and animals.
- Both bacteria and fungi require heat, nutrition, and moisture for growth.
- The optimum temperature for bacteria and fungi that can cause human infections is 37℃
Difference Between Bacteria and Fungi
|Kingdom||Bacteria belongs to the kingdom Monera.||Fungi belong to the kingdom Mycota.|
|Optimum growth pH||6.5-7.5||3.8-5.6|
|Optimum temperature||20-37℃ (mesophiles)||22-30℃ (saprophytes) 30-37℃ (parasitic)|
|Light requirement||Some photosynthetic||None|
|Sugar concentration for in vitro growth||0.5-1%||4-5%|
|Carbon requirement||Inorganic or organic||Organic|
|Oxygen requirement||Aerobic or anaerobic||Strict aerobes or facultative aerobes|
|Cell wall components||Peptidoglycan||Chitin, cellulose, or hemicellulose|
|Antibiotic susceptibility||Resistant to griseofulvin, susceptible to penicillin, tetracyclines, and chloramphenicol||Resistant to penicillin, tetracyclines, and chloramphenicol but sensitive to griseofulvin|
|Morphology||Spiral, coccus, and bacillus (rod) are common morphology||Hyphae (mold) and yeast are the common morphological forms.|
|Size||Bacteria are smaller in comparison to fungi (average size: about 1-5 microns).||The fungi are larger than bacteria (average size: about 5-50 micrometers).|
|Reproduction||Bacteria reproduce asexually (binary fission).||Reproduction occurs sexually as well as asexually by spores.|
|Spores||Bacteria produce spores under unfavorable conditions for survival.||Fungal spores are used for reproduction.|
|Mobility||Some have flagella for movement.||Fungi are non-motile.|
|Ribosome||Bacteria have prokaryotic ribosomes (70S ribosomes).||Fungi have eukaryotic ribosomes (80S ribosomes).|
|Transmission||Bacterial infection transmits by blood, body fluids, air, water, direct contact, and food.||Fungal infections transmit by spores.|
|Location of genetic material||The genetic material is localized in nucleoids in the cytoplasm.||The genetic material is enclosed inside the nucleus.|
|Incubation time||Bacterial colonies grow overnight invitro.||Fungal colonies require at least 2-4 days for growth in-vitro condition.|
|General purpose culture media||Nutrient agar and peptone water are generally used for non-fastidious bacteria.||SDA (Sabouraud’s dextrose agar), malt extract agar, and PDA (potato dextrose agar) are the general purpose media used for fungi.|
|Staining technique used||Staining techniques like Gram staining, capsule staining, Giemsa staining, etc., are useful while observing bacteria.||Fungi are not stained but mounted using LCPB (lactophenol cotton blue) or KOH. If stained Grocott’s silver stain and periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) are used commonly for observing under the microscope.|
|Colony morphology||Bacterial colonies are smooth, rough, or smooth with defined margins.||Fungal colonies are cottony, large and have a fuzzy appearance|
- Madiga, M., Martinko, J., Stahl, D., & Clark, D. (2012). Brock Biology of Microorganisms (13th ed., p. 601). Pearson Education.
- Pelczar Jr., M., Chan, E., & Krieg, N. (2007). Microbiology (5th ed., pp. 334). Tata McGraw-Hill.