Role of Bacteria in the World

By: Justin Chen

Coccolithophore vs Viruses

Coccolithophore are unicellular, eukaryotic phytoplankton (algae). Coccolithophores are unique because they surround themselves with microscopic plates, which are made of limestone. Viruses are the most abundant and may be the most diverse biological material found in the world’s ocean. When viruses make their way into a host cell, they are able to use the host cell machinery to replicate themselves and form more viruses. Viruses that cause the host cell to rupture during this replication process are referred to as lytic viruses. Giant DNA-containing viruses are known to infect coccolithophores. These viruses appear to infect the coccosphere coated diploid phase of the life cycle almost exclusively. Because the haploid organism is not infected and therefore not affected by the virus, the arms-race between coccolithophores and these viruses do not follow the typical hypothesis that organisms must evolve and adapt to survive against opposing organisms in an environment.

Bacterial Importance in Farms

Saprophytic bacteria obtain food from organic remains like fallen leaves and meat. They decompose these substances by using digestive enzymes aerobically or anaerobically (also known as fermentation). Thus, they help in sanitation of nature.

Saprophytic bacteria help in the breaking of complex organic substance to simpler forms. In this process, they help convert farm refuse and other wastes to manure.
Rhizobium bacteria, living in root nodules of leguminous plant symbiotically, help by fixing atmospheric nitrogen.
Lastly, bacteria help in disposal of sewage by decomposing it and thus, help in environmental sanitation.

Overall Bacterial Importance in Ecosystems

In our global ecosystem, bacteria have very crucial roles. The ecosystem largely depends upon the activity of bacteria to maintain balance and thrive. Nutrients such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur have a cyclic process in the ecosystem, and bacterial activity is found to be responsible for helping each cycle. It has been found that these microorganisms are responsible for producing the oxygen that we breathe. The very important production of such gas had given a way for other multicellular microorganisms to survive and adapt. Another role of bacteria is that they act in the decomposition process. Dead and rotting organisms give off organic carbon. If there were no bacteria that would help in this decomposing process, this organic carbon could very quickly deplete the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and carbon dioxide is responsible for photosynthesis in plants. This process too is responsible for producing food. When an organism dies, the carbon in its tissue becomes unavailable for other living things. With decomposition, the breakdown of these organisms gives way to the releasing of such nutrients back in the environment.