noun, plural: prokaryotes
Any of the group of organisms primarily characterized by the lack of true nucleus and other membrane-bound cell compartments: such as mitochondria and chloroplasts, and by the possession of a single loop of stable chromosomal DNA in the nucleiod region and cytoplasmic structures, such as plasma membrane, vacuoles, primitive cytoskeleton, and ribosomes.
Prokaryotes are usually small in size, therefore, have a large surface area to volume ratio. Thus, they have high metabolic rate and high growth rate. They generally reproduce asexually, which is by binary fission or budding.
Word origin: from the Old Greek pro-, before + karyon, nut or kernel, referring to the cell nucleus, + suffix -otos, pl. -otes.
Related forms: prokaryotic (adjective).