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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1963, from French procaryote (1925), from Greek pro- (see pro-) + karyon "nut, kernel" (see karyo-).


n. 1 An organism whose cell (or cells) are characterized by the absence of a nucleus or any other membrane-bound organelle. 2 In the of biology taxonomy, an organism of the kingdom (now superseded).


n. a unicellular organism having cells lacking membrane-bound nuclei; bacteria are the prime example but also included are blue-green algae and actinomycetes and mycoplasma [syn: procaryote] [ant: eukaryote]


A prokaryote is a single-celled organism that lacks a membrane-bound nucleus (karyon), mitochondria, or any other membrane-bound organelle. The word prokaryote comes from the Greek πρό (pro) "before" and καρυόν (karyon) " nut or kernel". Prokaryotes can be divided into two domains, Archaea and Bacteria. In contrast, species with nuclei and organelles are placed in the domain Eukaryota.

In the prokaryotes, all the intracellular water-soluble components ( proteins, DNA and metabolites) are located together in the cytoplasm enclosed by the cell membrane, rather than in separate cellular compartments. Bacteria, however, do possess protein-based bacterial microcompartments, which are thought to act as primitive organelles enclosed in protein shells. Some prokaryotes, such as cyanobacteria may form large colonies. Others, such as myxobacteria, have multicellular stages in their life cycles.

Molecular studies have provided insight into the evolution and interrelationships of the three domains of biological species. Eukaryotes are organisms, including humans, whose cells have a well defined membrane-bound nucleus (containing chromosomal DNA) and organelles. The division between prokaryotes and eukaryotes reflects the existence of two very different levels of cellular organization. Distinctive types of prokaryotes include extremophiles and methanogens; these are common in some extreme environments.

Usage examples of "prokaryote".

It has been suggested that flagellae and cilia were once spirochetes that joined up with the other prokaryotes when nucleated cells were being pieced together.

After a number of doublings, the prokaryote is programmed to self-destruct.

The modified prokaryote, however, bore no identifications of laboratories of origin, licensing, or patent markings.

The original medical prokaryote was pirated for the new purpose, and the people who modified it were obviously not concerned with legitimizing it for mass trade.

The chip-eating prokaryote had indeed been made to order there for the Komarran terrorists, by one of the Houses Minor more usually known for its tailored drugs.

Which men in the Komarran Affairs analysis department had both access to knowledge of the bioengineered prokaryote, and some reason to do this?

I have positively identified your find as the same prokaryote that was used on Chief Illyan.

I figured out that the prokaryote vector encapsulations had to be trapped in the air filters.

Galaxy, the Heechee found fewer than 80,000 worlds with life anywhere above the prokaryote stage.

Earth, the single-celled prokaryote protozoans, are essentially immortal in that a cell of that type will never stop dividing and die unless something kills it.

Then the Prokaryote slithered out of his eye and clattered to the floor, once more a solid object.

Zero-one silicon switch, zero-one quantum foam bubbling up into prokaryote paramecium parakeet philosopher, what difference does it make?

Living things can be divided into two great groups, eukaryotes and prokaryotes, on the basis of their cellular structure.

Without the prokaryotes little would happen even though the reactions are energetically downhill.

If you wanted something to detect the presence of the prokaryotes themselves, that would be a real challenge.