Bacteria are prokaryotic cells from the Kingdom Monera, which means that these cells do not contain a true nucleus. These cells do contain one strand of double-stranded DNA and reproduce by binary fission. Most bacteria can be classified by one of three structures: cocci, which are spherical; bacilli, which are rod-shaped; and spirilli, which are spiral.
Cocci are spherical bacteria -- Greek = berry; singular, coccus -- that can occur in different forms. Cocci that form an irregular cluster are staphylococci, which are that cause of staph infections. Another form is when the cocci form bead-like chains called streptococci, which can cause strep throat.
Bacilli -- singular, bacillus Greek = walking stick -- are rod-shaped bacteria that are some of the most understood bacteria in microbiology. Two of the most well-known bacilli are Bacillus anthracis, or anthrax, and B. cereus, which cause food-borne illnesses.
Spirilli -- singular, spirillum Greek = little coil -- are flexible spiral-shaped bacteria that is most often thought to cause rat-bite fever. Spirilli bacteria can be found in stagnant water that contains organic material.
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