A Wiki about biochemical individuality


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Prokaryotes (from Old Greek pro- before + karyon nut or kernel, referring to the cell nucleus, + suffix -otos, pl. -otes; also spelled "procaryotes") are organisms without a cell nucleus (= karyon), or indeed any other membrane-bound organelles, in most cases unicellular (in rare cases, multicellular). This set of characteristics is distinct from eukaryotes (also spelled "eucaryotes"), organisms that have cell nuclei and may be variously unicellular or multicellular. The difference between the structure of prokaryotes and eukaryotes is so great that it is considered to be the most important distinction among groups of organisms. Most prokaryotes are bacteria, and the two terms are often treated as synonyms. However, Woese has proposed dividing prokaryotes into the Bacteria and Archaea (originally Eubacteria and Archaebacteria) because of the significant genetic differences between the two. This arrangement of Eukaryota, Bacteria, and Archaea is called the three-domain system. This replaces the two-empire system.