The Microbe World

What are Microbes?             |              Where Do They Live?

Microbes are everywhere - a largely unseen world of living things that support life processes. "The Microbe World" provides a comprehensive directory of micro-organisms and their activities.
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Bacteria consist of only one cell, but they're a very complex group of living things. Some bacteria can live in temperatures above the boiling point and in cold below the freezing point.

There are thousands of species of bacteria, but all of them are basically one of three different shapes. Some are rod- or stick-shaped; others are shaped like little balls. Others still are helical or spiral in shape. Some bacteria cells exist as individuals while others cluster together to form pairs, chains, squares or other groupings.

Some bacteria can make their own food from sunlight, just like plants. Also like plants, they give off oxygen. Other bacteria absorb food from the material they live on or in. Some of these bacteria can live off iron or sulfur! The bacteria that live in your stomach absorb nutrients from the digested food you've eaten.

Some bacteria move about their environment by means of long, whip-like structures called flagella. They rotate their flagella like tiny outboard motors to propel themselves through liquid environments. They may also reverse the direction in which their flagella rotate so that they tumble about in one place. Other bacteria secrete a slime layer and ooze over surfaces like slugs. Others stay almost in the same spot.

Bacteria live on or in just about every material and environment on Earth from soil to water to air, and from your body to the Arctic ice to the Sahara deserts. Each square centimeter of your skin averages about 100,000 bacteria. A single teaspoon of soil contains more than a billion (1,000,000,000) bacteria.

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