A cockatrice was a wild dish served at medieval banquets. It was a cooked dish of a rooster fused to a suckling pig. Archaebacteria, as suggested by some microbiologists, are a microbial version of the cockatrice, since they appear to have genomes composed of both prokaryotes and eukaryotes.
However, what is even more interesting is the different kinds of lipids and structures which make up the outer membrane and walls of the archaebacteria. Some archaebacteria have monolayers rather than bilayers in their membranes. They also have different lipids suggesting that the biochemistry involved in making archaebacteria lipids is very different from both eukaryotes and prokaryotes. Their cell wall also contains something called an S-layer which is an intriguing structure. Even more fascinating the flagellum they display is constructed differently from the flagellum of eubacteria.
1 Explore the structure of the archaebacterial monolayers. How does this contribute to life in the extreme?
2 What is an S-layer and how does it contribute to cell function?
3 We discussed the problems inherent in trying to assemble a flagellum from pieces secreted from the eubacterial cell. How is this problem solved in the archaebacterial flagellum? Or is it solved?