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
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
Our Challenge: Name at least three places microbes live. Can you think of any places that microbes might not live?
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
Archaeans dine on a variety of substances for energy, including hydrogen gas, carbon dioxide and sulfur. One type of salt-loving archaean uses sunlight to make energy, but not the way plants do it. This archaean has a light-harvesting pigment in the membrane su... 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.
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
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
One of the reasons microbes have survived and flourished for billions of years is the different ways they reproduce and how fast they do it.
Bacteria usually reproduce by simply dividing in two. Each new bacterium is a clone of the original—they ... Read More