Novel study underscores microbial individuality

A single drop of seawater can contain a wide representation of ocean microbes from around the world—revealing novel insights into the ecology, evolution and biotechnology potential of the global microbiome. A new publication ...

How do you cultivate a healthy plant microbiome?

Scientists are homing in on what a healthy human microbiome looks like, mapping the normal bacteria that live in and on the healthy human body. But what about a healthy plant microbiome?

Investigating the rise of oxygenic photosynthesis

About 2.4 billion years ago, at the end of the Archean Eon, a planet-wide increase in oxygen levels called the Great Oxidation Event (GOE) created the familiar atmosphere we all breathe today. Researchers focused on life's ...

Inequity takes a toll on your gut microbes, too

People worry about having access to clean water, power, health care and healthy foods because they are essential for survival. But do they ever think about their access to microbes?

Gut microbes alter characteristics of norovirus infection

The highly contagious norovirus causes diarrhea and vomiting and is notorious for spreading rapidly through densely populated spaces, such as cruise ships, nursing homes, schools and day care centers. Each year, it is responsible ...

New disease hits corals

The emergence of a new coral disease in Micronesian reefs, termed grey-patch disease, is reported in the open access journal Microbiome. The disease alters the community of microbes found on the host coral and measuring these ...

Study points to new weapon in fight against lethal fungi

Researchers at Monash University have gained insights into how nanoparticles could be used to identify the presence of invasive and sometimes deadly microbes, and deliver targeted treatments more effectively.

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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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