The name protozoa means “first animals.” As the principal hunters and grazers of the microbial world, protozoa play a key role in maintaining the balance of bacterial, algal, and other microbial life. They also are themselves an important food source for larger creatures and the basis of many fo... Read More
Some fungi are quite useful to us. We've tapped several kinds to make antibiotics to fight bacterial infections. These antibiotics are based on natural compounds the fungi produce to compete against bacteria for nutrients and space. We use Saccharomyces cerevisiae (sack-air-oh-my... Read More
Some bacteria have hair- or whip-like appendages called flagella used to ‘swim’ around. Others produce thick coats of slime and ‘glide’ about. Some stick out thin, rigid spikes called fimbriae to help hold them to surfaces. Some contain little particles of minerals t... Read More
Bacteria can be found virtually everywhere. They are in the air, the soil, and water, and in and on plants and animals, including us. A single teaspoon of topsoil contains about a billion bacterial cells (and about 120,000 fungal cells and some 25,000 algal cells). The human mouth is home to ... Read More
Some archaea look like little rods or tiny balls, and some even get around like bacteria, using long hair- or whip-like appendages called flagella that stick out of their cell walls and act like a microscopic outboard motor to get them where they are going.... Read More
Does a bacterium’s cell wall, shape, way of moving, and environment really matter?
Yes! The more we know about bacteria, the more we are able to figure out how to make microbes work for us or stop dangerous ones from causing serious harm. And, for those of us who like to ponder more philosop... Read More
Archaeans are among the earliest forms of life that appeared on Earth billions of years ago. It’s now generally believed that the archaea and bacteria developed separately from a common ancestor nearly 4 billion years ago. Millions of years later, the ancestors of today's eukaryotes split off... Read More
Fungi straddle the realms of microbiology and macrobiology.
Fungi can be found in rising bread, moldy bread, and old food in the refrigerator, and on forest floors. Most decompose non-living things, but some damage crops and plants. A few cause problems in people, such as Candida, which causes yeast infections.... Read More
As the “humongous fungus” shows, fungi can grow to enormous mass if unimpeded.
Hyphae grow by adding cells at the tip. Hyphae are very tiny, measuring only a few microns in diameter in some cases. But they can also be incredibly strong, punching through not only the soft membranes of animal ... Read More
There are some nasty fungi that cause diseases in plants, animals and people. One of the most famous is Phytophthora infestans (fie-tof-thor-uh in-fes-tuhns), which caused the Great Potato Famine in Ireland in the mid-1800s that resulted in a million deaths. See the Read More
Viruses may be referred to often as the smallest infectious things. But there are some smaller contenders. Some of the agents of plant disease lack even a viral coat and are merely small strings of plain, or "naked," RNA. These particles are called viroids. They are believed ... Read More
Fungi absorb nutrients from living or dead organic matter (plant or animal stuff) that they grow on. They absorb simple, easily dissolved nutrients, such as sugars, through their cell walls. They give off special digestive enzymes to break down complex nutrient... Read More
Major development projects are taking place in oceans across the globe all the time, enterprises that will provide shelter and food for a vast number of fish, mussels, urchins, and other marine life.
Microbes require nutrients to grow. These are supplied by either solid or liquid culture media. The standard solid medium is nutrient agar, a gelatinous substance derived from seaweed. The basic liquid medium is nutrient broth, typically a mix of water, meat extract peptone, and sodium chlori... Read More