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The body supports a diverse range of bacteria in many different environmental an d nutritional conditions.

The range depends on the diet (carnivores have a diff erent range of bacteria compared to vegetarians), and the different physical con ditions of the various anatomical areas. Where do these micro-organisms come from, since we develop in utero, in a steril e environment? The bacteria start to inhabit us as soon as we are born. E coli is one species of our symbiotic bacteria. It is responsible for synthesising V itamin K. Vitamin K is a blood clotting co-factor and is responsible for preven ting us bleeding to death if we sustain a cut or injury. It is one essential sp ecies that we can ill afford to be without. In developing countries, E coli inh abits the guts several days after birth, in developed countries it can take seve ral months. S aureus is more likely to inhabit the guts of individuals in devel oped countries before E coli. This is because it depends on the locality, envir onmental conditions and diet. It has been discovered that some bacteria can cause rain! They secrete chemical s which act as surfactants (detergents), causing rain to develop from clouds. P erhaps this is a self-survival mechanism, developed from the past as a way of he lping them to combat dehydration. Bacteria can be very environmentally resistant, especially extremophiles. Polaromonas vacuolata is a psychrophile, which grows optimally at 4 degrees Cels ius. The Lazarus Bug was recently brought back to life after hibernating for 120, 000 years under 3 Km of ice. Most bacteria are mesophiles, which includes the majority of pathogens and our s ymbiotic bacteria. These prefer to grow at around body temperature. Pyrolobus fumarii prefers to grow at 106 degrees Celsius, that s higher than the b oiling point of water! These conditions are found near hydrothermal vents on th e sea bed, where temperatures exceed 350 degrees Celsius. Bacteria such as Ther mus aquaticus survives at temperatures of 80 degrees Celsius, commonly found in hot springs. Scientists have found this organism very interesting and have extr acted an enzyme, Taq Polymerase, for studies involving heat resistant enzymes. Halophiles are bacteria that can survive in high concentrations of salt. Barophiles exist in high pressure environments, for example in deep sea. Xerophiles exist in very dry conditions. Acidophiles prefer an acidic environment, where most bacteria prefer a neutral p H (7). Alkaliphiles opt for the more alkaline surroundings. It has been suggested that when the Earth formed, 4.6 billion years ago, no life existed until the temperature of the cooling planet was such as to warrant life proliferation. It has also been suggested that conditions during the first evo lution of life was anoxic and could not support oxygen breathing organisms. Bac teria must therefore have started out as anaerobes (living without oxygen). As oxygen became more readily available from the cyanobacteria photosynthesising ca rbon dioxide to produce oxygen and the evolution of plants, bacteria once again adapted. As there was little oxygen to start with they probably developed as fa cultative microbes (can survive with or without oxygen). Micro-aerophiles are b acteria, such as Campylobacter, that require small amounts of oxygen (about 5%). Aerobic bacteria can only survive in oxygen.