Friday, February 20, 2009

Know Your Microbes! Let MicrobeWorld teach you about the 6 types!

MicrobeWorld is a great resource for learning about Microbes. We will highlight different parts of their site in the future, but we'll start by taking a look at the different types of Microbes.

Microbes can be divided into six main types: Archaea, Bacteria, Fungi, Protista, Viruses, and Microbial Mergers.



These bacteria look-alikes are living fossils that are providing clues to the earliest forms of life on Earth.

Lactobacillus Sake


Often dismissed as “germs” that cause illness, bacteria help us do an amazing array of useful things, like make vitamins, break down some types of garbage, and maintain our atmosphere.

basidiospores of the shiitake mushroom, Lentinula edodes


From a single-celled yeast to a 3.5-mile-wide mushroom, fungi do everything from helping to bake bread to recycling to decomposing waste.

Amoeba proteus, a member of the protistas


Plant-like algae produce much of the oxygen we breathe; animal-like protozoa (including the famous amoeba) help maintain the balance of microbial life.



Unable to do much of anything on their own, viruses go into host cells to reproduce, often wreaking havoc and causing disease. Their ability to move genetic information from one cell to another makes them useful for cloning DNA and could provide a way to deliver gene therapy.

A close-up view of a fog-desert Niebla lichen

Microbial Mergers

Mergers and collaborations on a minute scale paved the way for higher life forms. Today, symbionts (the scientific terms for these mergers) help fertilize plants, construct coral reefs, and help us digest food.

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