eDNA methods give a real-time look at coral reef health

The human gut is full of microbes. Some microbes can make people sick, while others are responsible for balancing gut health. But humans aren't the only species whose health depends on these microorganisms. Coral reef ecosystems ...

Researchers identify microbes that help plants thwart parasite

Bacteria that could help one of Africa's staple crops resist a major pest have been identified by researchers at the University of California, Davis. Their findings, published in Cell Reports, could improve yields of sorghum, ...

Characterizing salps as predators of marine microbes

A huge fraction of global flows of carbon and other nutrients pass through marine microbes. Little is known about their causes of death, however. This information determines where those nutrients will go.

Bacterial diseases a lethal threat during the Stone Age

Bacterial poisoning via food and water—but also via contact such as kisses—caused a lot of suffering during the Stone Age. Diseases that today can be treated with antibiotics were then fatal, concludes new study published ...

Video: Stashing carbon for the long haul with healthy soils

A key solution for carbon capture and storage is under our feet. We're investigating the interactions between plants, microbes, and geological features in soil with the goal of using healthy soil ecosystems to pull carbon ...

New technology unscrambles the chatter of microbes

Researchers from University of California San Diego, as part of a large collaboration with scientists around the world, have developed a new search tool to help researchers better understand the metabolism of microorganisms. ...

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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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