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Bacterial Cell Composition

Composition of a Bacterial Cell

There are two formulas used to describe a bacterial cell. Both are discussed below.

Structure of a Bacterial Cell

The most widely used empirical formula for the organic fraction of bacteria cells is shown below. About 53 percent by weight of the organic fraction is carbon.

A more complete formula for the composition of a bacteria cell is:

Expanded Bacterial Cell Composition

The table (Table 7.4) shown below has been copied from Metcalf & Eddy’s Wastewater Engineering textbook. You can find the exact reference at the bottom of the table. If you click on the graphic itself you will open up a PDF version of the table useful for printing. This table from Metcalf & Eddy gives you a good idea of the chemical composition of a bacterial cell.

Metcalf & Eddy Composition of Bacteria Cells

The graphic below provides another way to look at the composition of a bacterium. I took this information and reproduced in the format shown from the May 2009 issue of a document I found online called “The Wastewater Insight” from Environmental Leverage Inc. If you click on the graphic itself you will open up a PDF the document. I recommend you take a look at it.

Bacteria Cell


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