Bacteria All Around

Microbes (also known as microorganisms, bacteria, fungi, or protozoa) are the smallest, oldest, and simplest life forms found on planet Earth.  Surpisingly, both beneficial and harmful microorganisms prove themselves essential to our existence.


  Microbes are responsible for:

  • Creating an oxygen-based atmosphere
  • Creating the Ozone Layer
  • Managing carbon and nitrogen cycles
  • Converting toxic chemical into nitrites for plant's growth
  • Making Medicine
  • And Many More Important Functions


Living Here

   Billions of years ago, microbes converted Earth's nitrogen-based atmosphere to an oxygen-based atmosphere. Thus allowing the evolution and reproduction of  larger life forms. Without the presence of microorganisms, human life-forms would not subsist.

   Presently, in the soil, some microorganisms live on the roots of the plants. These microorganisms absorbs nitrogen though a process called fixing nitrogen. This process allows the plants to grow and complete important various tasks. These microorganisms help the plant to function properly and carry out photosynthesis. Thriving plants  then perform photosynthesis and produce oxygen for  Earth.

Image of Earth with half of its atmosphere removed. 



   Photosynthetic microbes also provide oxygen; in fact, they are responsible for half of the photosynthesis on Earth. This means that microorganisms provide about half of Earth's oxygen supply. These microbes increase oxygen production and decrease the amount of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and by decreasing carbon dioxide concentration, these microorganisms lessen global warming (Citation 8).

   The term "greenhouse effect" refers to the heat trapped within Earth's atmosphere that causes Earth's temperature to rise. Certain gases (greenhouse gases) in the Earth's atmosphere prevent heat from escaping to space and warm our climate. Therefore, they have an essential role on Earth by making the plant's surface warm and habitable (Citation 25).

   However a great increase in concentrations of these greenhouse gases will result in a dramatic increase of Earth's temperature. Abnormal temperatures have disastrous effects on the climate through changing rainfall patterns, snow and ice cover, and sea level. This warming of the Earth's climate is termed Global Warming (Citation 27).

Consequences of global warming include:

  • Changes will occur rainfall and temperature patterns. This will  disrupt worldwide agriculture production.

  • Since ice glaciers well melt, a slow and gradual rise in sea level will transpire. As a result, shoreline erosion in many coastal areas would accelerate.

  • The track of storms will change. Also global warming causes a higher frequency and greater intensity of hurricanes

  • An increase in the frequency and  intensity of heat waves and droughts.

(Citation 27)



   The medical drugs found  today often originate from the chemicals found in microorganisms. With the increasing variety of microbes obtained through metagenomics, scientists can develop new medical drugs to fight diseases and viruses.

   Antibiotics are drugs that destroy bacteria, yet the earliest originated from fungi or other bacteria. Today many of the antibiotics in use also come from microorganisms, manufactured by chemical synthesis or bioengineering processes (Citation 21).



Bacteria in Our Body

   About 100 trillion microbes live in our intestine to help us digest food. Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron helps our bodies' process complex sugars, which provides us energy to perform daily tasks. 

   There remain millions of bacteria everywhere in the world. Even in a healthy mouth, about 100,000 bacteria can remain on each tooth. Although most of these microorganisms are helpful, a few harmful ones such as Steptococcus mutants (causes tooth decay) have a destructive effect (Citation 22).


Bacteria in Food

   Microorganisms also play a role in food. They change the character of certain foods and thus produce new desirable products such as yogurt, cheese, butter and bread. Without microorganisms, we would not be able to enjoy the variety of foods in today's world (Citation 23)


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Lactobacillus Acidophilus: These prokaryotes  ferments lactose into lactic acid to make yogurt, cheese, or butter.

Home  //  Microbes  //  What is Metagenomics  //  Process  //  Challenges  //  Studies  //  Impact  //  Innovators //  References 

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