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Observing Different Microbes

Author(s): Barbara Tharp, MS, and Nancy Moreno, PhD

Let's Talk About Baker's Yeast Cells

The term "yeast" is used to described any single-celled fungus species, including Baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). Most fungi, such as mushrooms, molds and rusts, are multicellular and are not microbes. Members of the Fungus group are eukaryotes (their cells contain membrane-enclosed nuclei and organelles) that feed by absorption. The cell walls of fungi are composed of chitin, the material that gives hardness to the exoskeletons of insects.

Baker's yeast cells are larger than bacteria cells, usually about 10µm in diameter. Students will not be able to observe many internal details of yeast cells using a typical classroom microscope set-up. However, they may notice some dividing or budding yeast cells. Yeasts are able to reproduce asexually by simple cell division or by pinching off bud cells from a parent cell. Baker's yeast has many uses, including in the production of beer and bread, and as a model organism for the study of processes inside cells.

Funded by the following grant(s)

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Grant Number: 5R25RR018605