Some people think it would be great if scientists could wipe out all the microbial bugs! Should we do it, and why or why not?
We get a lot of requests to track down the nasty bugs that are making people sick. It's true that some microbes cause health problems such as strep throat, chi... Read More
Our Challenge: Name at least three places microbes live. Can you think of any places that microbes might not live?
Microbiologists perform a wide range of jobs and activities, and the tools they use are just as diverse. The instruments and techniques that microbiologists use range from the simplest to the most complex.
Developing tricks and tools to keep their enzymes in order is one way thermophiles survive. They also use techniques to keep their DNA from falling apart under intense heat. Like proteins, the parts of the long, spiral ladder-shaped DNA molecule start to unravel and break apart under high hea... Read More
The biggest of the big! The baddest of the bad! The oldest of the ancients! This is where you'll find all the microbial record holders, microbes that beat all others hands down in a variety of categories. This is our microbial Boo... Read More
Bacteria contain the genetic blueprint (DNA) and all the tools (ribosomes, proteins, etc.) they need to reproduce themselves.
Viruses are moochers. They contain only a limited genetic blueprint and they don't have the necessary building tools. They have to invade other cells and hijack the... Read More
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
When microbiologists want to identify microbes in a sample or study microbes in-depth, they often try to culture, or grow, the microbial cells in their labs. The scientists can then manipulate the cells or their environments to see what effects these changes have on the organisms.
Established in 2003, MicrobeWorld is an interactive multimedia educational outreach initiative from the American Society for Microbiology that promotes awareness and understanding of key microbiological issues to adult and youth audiences, and showcases the significance of m... 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
In the fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty went to sleep for 100 years in a castle protected by giant thorns and then was revived by the kiss of a prince. In 2000, scientists told a microbial version of this fairy tale, announcing that they had revived bacteria that had lain in suspended animation fo... Read More
Many archaeans thrive in conditions that would kill other creatures: boiling water, super-salty pools, sulfur-spewing volcanic vents, acidic water and deep in Antarctic ice. These types of archaea are often labeled "extremophiles," meaning creatures that love extreme conditions.