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What are bacteria, where do they come from, how to they interact with us?

All e xtremely valid questions. When the Earth formed 4.6 billion years ago, the environment was far too hostile for any life to form. But as the Earth cooled it is hypothesised and theorised , although nobody will ever know the answer, that life formed from the primordia l soup that was flowing on the Earth s surface. How did this happen? Again it can only be surmised that a chemical explosion occurred which brought t ogether vital elements that fused to form life. Scientists in the 1950s conducted experiments which combined heated water and ai r and electricity to mimic conditions thought to exist when the Earth was coolin g. The experiment concluded with the production of 5 amino acids, the building blocks of proteins and life. In 2008 a similar experiment was undertaken, but t his time a further element was introduced, steam. These conditions were thought to mimic volcanoes erupting. The experiment saw the synthesising of 22 amino a cids. During pre-life did the amino acids form proteins, did the proteins combine to f orm life? It is thought that microbes have been around for 3.8 billion years and further l ife such as plants developed from the fusion of amoeba and cyanobacteria 1.9 bil lion years ago. Multicellular organisms are thought to have developed 630 milli on years ago. Organisms made the transition from sea to land 3.2 billion years ago. Some scientist believe that life existed on Mars, many billions of years ago and came to Earth by way of meteorites and fused with terrestrial proteins to form life. Did we really come from Mars? We will never know. There are obviously many other beliefs as to our existence, such as creationism, but this article is concentrating on the background to bacteria and their impac t on human life, rather that look at the background to human existence, that is a topic for another article! Some scientists believe that all life developed from bacteria, with fusion and m utation continually playing vital roles in the evolutionary process. They have reached this conclusion due the remarkable similarity between cells and cellular processes in bacteria, plants and animals. The tree of life splits all living organisms into 3 groups: Bacteria Archaea Eukarya There are more microbes than stars in the universe, so it has been suggested. Bacteria are ubiquitous, they are found in and on humans, in the soil, water and atmosphere. Dust clouds contain many species of bacteria and viral particles r esponsible for causing diseases such as meningitis, coral farm disease, pneumoni a, septic shock, inflammation of the heart, sars, influenza, valley fever and fo ot and mouth. Whenever you are ready to take a shower, let it run for a minute before stepping in or risk getting a face full of bacteria. Scientists have found large number s of Mycobacterium avium in the shower faucets. These bacteria cause respirator y diseases similar to TB. Two other strains of these bacteria actually cause TB and leprosy. Any microbe responsible for causing disease is termed a pathogen. There are, ho wever, more beneficial micro-organisms than pathogens. In fact without certain species we would die. Humans are caked in bacteria, which keeps inflammation in check, which can be c aused by injury and pathogens. Staphylococcus aureus are commensal bacteria whi ch are part of the natural micro-flora of humans (and other animals). Any micro bes which are not part of our natural flora are called transients. S aureus releases molecules which prevent skin cells from releasing chemicals th at cause the inflammatory response. Although the inflammatory response is cruci al to aid recovery from injury, too much, prolonged inflammation can cause skin diseases such as psoriasis. We, along with other species, possess vast amounts of symbiotic bacteria in and

B2. considering that 106 is a million! The bacteria are responsible for: steroid metabolism (modifying steroids released from the gall bladder after syn thesis in the liver. Salmonel la is a genus. due to the anti-bacterial qualities of lysozyme. The lower respiratory tract (trachea lungs) should contain few. Plaque is a very good growth medium for several different genera of bacteria. Staphylococcus and Propionibacterium (a species of which causes acne). The upper respiratory tract (sinuses larynx) of a healthy individual contain man y micro-flora. Betwe en the oesophagus and anus there are up to 30 different species of bacteria pres ent. releasing lactic acid. . It starts at the oesophagus. The gastrointestinal tract (GI) is a single long tube running from the mouth to the anus. Our skin. The amount of bacteria present on the skin depends on several factors including the weather. we would not be able to digest food. is a resident of the va gina.500 known species of Salmonella. then transient bacteria can inhabit and grow. if any. Lactobacillus acidophilus. nipples and navel. a constituent of saliva. especially patho gens. allowing the build up of plaque. One such species. from developing. B12 and K breakdown of fibre (the digestible elements) production of gas such as methane. hydrogen and carbon dioxide. caused by pathogens. There are 17 known genera of bacteria known to belong to the Bacterial Phylogeni c Tree. age of host (young children harbour more bacteria. genitalia. B6. The acidic condition p revents disease. However.on our body. Without bacteria present. The modified steroids are then absorbed by the gut) synthesis of vitamins such as B1. The majority of skin micro-flora is concentrated around our sweat glands. for example. Some studies have shown a bacteria cell count of 1014 in the GI tract. than adults) and personal hygiene. Half of all these bacteria mainly belong to the genera Streptococcus. Urine is held in a sterile environment in the bladder. The bacteria inhabit th e urethra. is home to over 180 different species of bacteria and fun gi. Corynebacterium. s uch as the underarms. The mouth does not harbour any micro-flora. Th at is a lot of bacteria. Each genus (genera = plural) can have many different species. where it ferments glycogen. there are over 2. if one has poor dental hygiene. gingivitis and periodontal disease. which is inhabited by microflora. ca using such disorders as dental caries. The uro genital tract in both male and females contain a few resident bacteria.