In biology, an organism (from Greek: οργανισμός, organismos) is any contiguous living system, such as an animal, plant, fungus, archaeon, or bacterium. All known types of organisms are capable of some degree of response to stimuli, reproduction, growth and development and homeostasis. An organism consists of one or more cells; when it has one cell it is known as a unicellular organism; and when it has more than one it is known as a multicellular organism. Most unicellular organisms are of microscopic scale and are thus loosely described as microorganisms. Humans are multicellular organisms composed of many trillions of cells grouped into specialized tissues and organs.
An organism may be either a prokaryote or a eukaryote. Prokaryotes are represented by two separate domains—bacteria and archaea. Eukaryotic organisms are characterized by the presence of a membrane-bound cell nucleus and contain additional membrane-bound compartments called organelles (such as mitochondria in animals and plants and plastids in plants and algae, all generally considered to be derived from endosymbiotic bacteria). Fungi, animals and plants are examples of kingdoms of organisms within the eukaryotes.
Estimates on the number of Earth’s current species range from 10 million to 14 million, of which only about 1.2 million have been documented. More than 99% of all species, amounting to over five billion species, that ever lived are estimated to be extinct. In 2016, a set of 355 genes from the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) of all living organisms living was identified.
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