Microorganisms work together to survive high temperatures

The conventional view is that high temperatures cause microorganisms to replicate slowly or die. In this current textbook view, microorganisms combat heat-induced damage on their own. Reporting in Nature Microbiology, Delft ...

Tracking microorganisms through the dairy production process

Microorganisms from the environment can enter the dairy supply chain at multiple stages, including production, milk collection, and processing, with potential implications for quality and safety. The ability to track these ...

How will billions of marine microbes adapt to climate change?

Climate change is heating the oceans, which affects billions of marine microbes in ways scientists don't fully understand. In response, USC researchers have developed a model to forecast how these important organisms will ...

Microorganisms fed with toxic gas to produce biofuel

Today, various processes are used to convert organic waste into biogas. By combining two different processes, it is possible to obtain even more of valuable substances such as hydrogen and methane. The key is to make the ...

Life, liberty—and access to microbes?

Poverty increases the risk for numerous diseases by limiting people's access to healthy food, environments and stress-free conditions. In a new essay published November 26 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology, Suzanne ...

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, ...

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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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