The Role of Bacteria in the World

Connor Farrell

Bacteria v. Virus, Who Reigns Supreme?

How do coccolithophores battle viruses?

  • they send off chemical messages when they are invaded
  • they harden their calcium shields when they receive the message
  • as they die, they shed their calcium discs

Good for the Earth

Out of all the different species of bacteria on the earth, only a small handful can harm us. One such example being the Streptococcus bacteria. Many different bacteria do tfhings for us that are actually really helpful. Stick around to find out more.

Bacteria, a Recycler's Best Friend

Some species of bacteria can work as decomposers. These species break down dead plant and animal matter. If you want to try this for yourself, then look into composting stuff! After the bacteria finishes breaking the matter down, it leaves behind nutrient rich material that other organisms can use.

Nitrogen Fixation

Another task that bacteria are capable of is nitrogen fixation. This is the process by which nitrogen gets converted into ammonium. Normally, atmospheric nitrogen is inert. Therefore, most plants can't interact with it. The process of fixating it frees up the nitrogen atoms to be used in other ways.

Bacteria, Keeping us Healthy

Believe it or not, many medications involve the usage of bacteria. For example, Antibiotics like penicillin that kill other bacteria and viruses are made with bacteria. Surprising, right? Another usage for bacteria is to make the chemical insulin. Insulin uses/breaks down sugar and carbohydrates. In the 1970's, scientists figured out how insert genes into bacteria that cause them to produce human insulin.

It's in our Food?!

Many different foods are made using bacteria. Some examples of these include:

  • Yogurt
  • Sour cream
  • Buttermilk
  • Cheese
Yes, you read that correctly, those and many other foods contain bacteria. Heck, if it weren't for the bacteria in the foods, some of them wouldn't even be able to be made at all!

Bacteria, Nature's Cleaner

Two uses for bacteria are for changing harmful chemicals, and cleaning up hazardous waste/oil spills. The process by which micro-organisms are used to change harmful chemicals into non-harmful ones, is called 'bioremediation'. Also, new strains of bacteria have been bioengineered to actually consume the oils and hazardous wastes.