The difference between bacteria, fungi, viruses, protozoa and algae are listed below. They all play a very important role in the decaying process.
Bacteria: A bacteria is a single celled organism that is essential for all life. They are either a parasite or live independently. Bacteria have three basic shapes that include spiral, coccus and bacillus. Bacteria multiply themselves by cell division. Antibiotics can usually kill them. An example of bacteria is meningitis and pneumonia.
Fungi: A fungus is a spore producing organism that has no chlorophyll and can live as single celled yeast or as a larger multi-cellular mould. It will reproduce by spores. It will live by absorbing certain nutrients from any organic matter. Fungi include moulds, mildews, mushrooms and yeasts. Fungi can cause disease in immune suppressed people, such as jock itch and ringworm. Penicillin is made from a fungus.
Viruses: Viruses are microscopically small and are the simplest microbiological entity. A virus is not an independent living organism and needs a host cell to replicate. They are sub-microscopic parasitic particles of nucleic acid (RNA or DNA) that are wrapped in protein. Viruses are immune to antibiotics and are spread in the air or by direct contact. They can lead to serious or sometimes deadly diseases, such as AIDS.
Protozoa: A protozoa is a single celled organism which is able to move and will feed on any organic compound of carbon and nitrogen, for example an amoeba. They can be parasites or live independently. They are usually found in water or soil. Protozoa have different shapes and will produce asexually. They can inhabit the human body as a parasite, for example in the large intestine.
Algae: Algae are photosynthetic organisms of a group which live mostly in water. It includes the different seaweeds. Algae are different to plants because they have no true stems, roots or leaves. Algae also cause red tide, which can be fatal to fish and people eating contaminated shellfish. They will reproduce asexually.