Beneficial Microorganisms and the Environment
By Clifford Woods
Our culture has become obsessed with eliminating bacteria; using gels andwipes to kill all the microbes that we have associated with illness, infection anddeath. But there are many types of
, which arehelpful, even helping us in our fight against global warming by breaking downplastics and cleaning up pollution. Someday perhaps even developing into a curefor cancer.
Bacteria or microbes are everywhere in our world, and their presence of coursehas an effect on
they are living in. These effects of microbeson our environment may be beneficial or harmful, with some having no effect onhumans at all.
Outside the body, microorganisms are used widely in various applications thatare beneficial, including pest control, food, as well as symbiosis of plants andstimulation of growth.
There are assorted types of bacteria that can clean up
whenmajor petroleum spills happen. There is a specific strain of bacteria called
that will quickly increase in population whenever an oil spill offers for them, large amounts of food, and they are able to remove much of the oil fromthese spills.They were at work in the Gulf of Mexico during the Deepwater Horizon spill andare probably still there to help undo the damage that was done to the Gulf.Because they are able to help in this area, they provide an effect that is beneficialto our environment. This incident brought to the attention of scientists even more
that feed on oil than originally first thought. It isestimated that the annual seepage in the Gulf of oil is 140,000 tons and thesemicroorganisms take care of that.
There are still other forms of bacteria having tiny wire appendages referred to asnanowires and they not only digest toxic waste including PCBs and chemicalsolvents, they can also produce electricity while they are digesting the toxicwaste. One bacterium, called
is a type of
from thedeep sea that grows these nanowires that seek oxygen when placed in low-oxygen environments.