It isn't the picky eaters that drive soil microbial metabolism

Interactions among microorganisms in soil lead to the release of nutrients derived from complex organic matter in that soil. This community metabolism creates food for both microbes and plants. However, scientists don't fully ...

Rewilding the guts of rescued lemurs

Modern life messes with the microbiome, the trillions of bacteria and other microbes that live inside the body. Could reconnecting with nature bring this internal ecosystem back into balance?

Improving safety assessment of nanoparticles

How safe are the nanoparticles in transparent sunscreen, anti-odor socks and bacteria-resistant plasters? Although microbes are present on all organisms, the tools that estimate the safety of nanomaterials still hardly take ...

Can microrobots improve the safety of dairy products?

The Staphylococcus aureus bacterium commonly causes infections in dairy cows, leading to inflammation of the udder tissue, or mastitis, and lower milk quality. In research published in the journal Small, investigators developed ...

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Microorganism

A microorganism (from the Greek: μικρός, mikrós, "small" and ὀργανισμός, organismós, "organism"; also spelled micro organism or micro-organism) or microbe is an organism that is microscopic (usually too small to be seen by the naked human eye). The study of microorganisms is called microbiology, a subject that began with Anton van Leeuwenhoek's discovery of microorganisms in 1675, using a microscope of his own design.

Microorganisms are very diverse; they include bacteria, fungi, archaea, and protists; microscopic plants (called green algae); and animals such as plankton, the planarian and the amoeba. Some microbiologists also include viruses, but others consider these as non-living. Most microorganisms are unicellular (single-celled), but this is not universal, since some multicellular organisms are microscopic, while some unicellular protists and bacteria, like Thiomargarita namibiensis, are macroscopic and visible to the naked eye.

Microorganisms live in all parts of the biosphere where there is liquid water, including soil, hot springs, on the ocean floor, high in the atmosphere and deep inside rocks within the Earth's crust. Microorganisms are critical to nutrient recycling in ecosystems as they act as decomposers. As some microorganisms can fix nitrogen, they are a vital part of the nitrogen cycle, and recent studies indicate that airborne microbes may play a role in precipitation and weather.

Microbes are also exploited by people in biotechnology, both in traditional food and beverage preparation, and in modern technologies based on genetic engineering. However, pathogenic microbes are harmful, since they invade and grow within other organisms, causing diseases that kill millions of people, other animals, and plants.

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