Prokaryotic

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Dictionary Meaning and Definition on 'Prokaryotic'

Prokaryotic Meaning and Definition from WordNet (r) 2.0
    prokaryotic adj : having cells that lack membrane-bound nuclei [syn: procaryotic] [ant: eukaryotic, eukaryotic]
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Wikipedia Meaning and Definition on 'Prokaryotic'


The prokaryotes (pronounced /proʊˈkæri.oʊts/ or /proʊˈkæriəts/) are a group of organisms that lack a cell nucleus (= karyon), or any other membrane-bound organelles. They differ from the eukaryotes, which have a cell nucleus. Most are unicellular, but a few prokaryotes such as myxobacteria have multicellular stages in their life cycles.

The prokaryotes are divided into two domains: the bacteria and the archaea. Archaea were recognized as a domain of life in 1990. These organisms were originally thought to live only in inhospitable conditions such as extremes of temperature, pH, and radiation but have since been found in all types of habitats.

A distinction between prokaryotes and eukaryotes (meaning true kernel, also spelled "eucaryotes") is that eukaryotes do have "true" nuclei containing their DNA, whereas the genetic material in prokaryotes is not membrane-bound. Eukaryotic organisms may be unicellular, as in amoebae, or multicellular, as in plants and animals. The difference between the structure of prokaryotes and eukaryotes is so great that it is sometimes considered to be the most important distinction among groups of organisms. However, a criticism of this classification is that the word "prokaryote" is based on what these organisms are not (they are not eukaryotic), rather than what they are (either archaea or bacteria).

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