Soil scientists increase phosphorus content in paddy soils

Soil scientists from the RUDN University (Russia) and Huazhong Agricultural University (China) have demonstrated that adding carbon compounds to the soil can increase phosphorus availability in paddy fields. For these purposes, ...

Microorganisms reduce methane release from the ocean

Next to CO2, methane is the greenhouse gas that contributes most to the man-made greenhouse effect. Of the methane sources caused by human activity, rice fields and cattle are among the most important. Furthermore, methane ...

Methane-producing microorganism makes a meal of iron

A new understanding of how an important methane-producing microorganism creates methane and carbon dioxide could eventually allow researchers to manipulate how much of these important greenhouse gases escape into the atmosphere. ...

Microorganisms protect iron sheet piling against degradation

A natural biofilm of oxygen-free microorganisms protects iron sheet piling against corrosion by depositing minerals on the wall. That is what researchers at the Radboud University, the Dutch Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) ...

Tungsten as interstellar radiation shielding?

A boiling point of 5900 degrees Celsius and diamond-like hardness in combination with carbon: tungsten is the heaviest metal, yet has biological functions—especially in heat-loving microorganisms. A team led by Tetyana ...

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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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