Microbes and food 2. Microbe facts
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Bacteria photomicrograph
Picture 2.1a Examples bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa, viruses. Click on each one to find out more.
2.1 Different types of microbe
There are different types of microbes:

They affect every aspect of life on earth. They are amazingly diverse and can exist in a wide range of habitats from hot springs to the icy wastes of Antarctica. Many of them live in or on the bodies of animals and plants.

Penicillium notatum photomicrograph
Picture 2.1b Penillium notatum is a mould that produces a chemical (an antibiotic) that kills some bacteria.

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What do microbes do?

Some microbes cause diseases like ‘flu and malaria, but most are completely harmless. They are essential to the cycling of nutrients in the ecosystems of the planet.

Microbial activity is exploited for the benefit of humankind in many ways, such as:

  • production of medicines
  • production of food
  • production of enzymes
  • the clean-up of sewage and other wastes
  • exciting advances resulting from developments in molecular biology techniques.