The Role of Bacteria in the World

Vinay Kalvacherla, Joanne Jung

Bacterial Defenses Against Viruses

A species known as coccolithophores has been brought under scrutinization for their defenses against viruses. They are single celled organisms, surrounded by white disc plates, and viruses constantly attempt to inhabit the bacteria through the lysogenic cycle to produce more viruses. When a coccolithophore is getting attacked by a virus, it releases chemicals that alert surrounding coccolithophores that there are viruses attacking. In turn, the alerted organisms harden their outer shells so that they become impenetrable. When the organisms die, their shells fall off and accumulate. The Dover Cliffs of England were made as a result of accumulated shells. The new coccolithophores that are formed in the place of the dead ones gulp in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen, accounting for half the oxygen we breathe today. The outward defenses and alert mechanisms used by these organisms proves to be a worthy and valid approach that single celled organisms can use to defend themselves against dangerous viruses that attack them.

What is The Importance of the War?

The war displays the potence of bacteria and other one celled organisms to defend themselves. Although viruses are nefarious and often cannot be avoided, the mechanisms of the coccolithophores illuminates the ways that bacteria could possibly defend themselves as well. A strong outer shell would provide them with ample support and defense from the penetrating bacteria, and the chemical alert mechanisms used by the coccolithophores are possible mechanisms that bacteria could use to defend themselves. The path of evolution is truly illuminated through the war.

Role of Bacteria in Different Environments

Gut Flora

There are numerous different types of bacteria that exist in our intestines. Some such bacteria include Bifidobacteria, E.coli, Klebsiella, and Enterobacter. These species help the body digest some types of food that the body's digestive system itself generally is not able to digest on its own. Furthermore, these bacteria aid with the synthesis of the Vitamins B and K, which are vastly necessary and beneficial to the body. They aid the immune system as well by fighting other foreign microorganisms that may harm the system. These bacteria are collectively known as "gut flora," and are pivotal to the existence of humans.


Bacteria are also present on dead bodies and help decompose the bodies and return their nutrients back into the Earth's ecosystems. Such bacteria include Proteobacteria and Fermicutes, which help eat the muscles and tissues of the body. During this process, right after death, the bacteria begin to decompose the body after about 72 hours and release a terrible smelling gas, which in turn causes the body to bloat and ooze fluids. The work of this bacteria then attracts flies and maggots, which further decompose the body.