RLO: Prokaryotes and eukaryotes

Prokaryotes: characteristics

Prokaryotic literally means ‘before the nut or kernel’, referring to the nucleus of the cell. The genetic material is circular; it is neither organised nor contained within a specialised membrane. Bacteria are prokaryotes and range in size from 0.2 – 2.0 µm.

Whilst prokaryotic cells are smaller and less complex than eukaryotic cells, there is no doubt that the success of prokaryotes has far surpassed any other living organisms that have since colonised the earth. In fact, there are probably more bacteria on your skin than the entire human population of the planet!


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© 2009 University of Nottingham

The production of this learning object was funded by the Eduserv Foundation

Developer: Liz Hilton

Content author: Leanne Williams, Castle College

RLO released: 26 January 2009

Page last updated: 29 March, 2021