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Where They’re Found

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 more than 500 species of bacteria.

Some bacteria (along with archaea) thrive in the most forbidding, uninviting places on Earth, from nearly-boiling hot springs to super-chilled Antarctic lakes buried under sheets of ice. Microbes that dwell in these extreme habitats are aptly called extremophiles.

Bacteria live on or in just about every material and environment on Earth from soil to water to air, and from your house to arctic ice to volcanic vents. Each square centimeter of your skin averages about 100,000 bacteria. A single teaspoon of topsoil contains more than a billion (1,000,000,000) bacteria.

 

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