by Lena VOROBYOVA, Dr. Sc. (Biol.), M. Lomonosov Moscow State University
Bacteria (microbes) are the first microscopic organisms that appeared here on earth. The biosphere and organic life-all that comes from them. Our very existence is inconceivable without them. Bacteria are implicated in the global turnover of substances, they are involved in soil formation, in the buildup and decomposition of mineral deposits. These microorganisms are widely used in the food, microbiological, chemical, medical and other industries.
More than three hundred years have passed since the Dutch naturalist Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632 - 1723) discovered microbes. Up until then people had been living in blessed ignorance about the truly great role that bacteria are playing in sustaining the human race. Even today many do not suspect how fast organic life would have degraded in the absence of such microorganisms.
The total weight of the protoplasm (the living matter of every plant and animal cell) contained in microbes is all too large to be measured in practical terms. However, the quantitative aspect is not the main thing to prod scientists to peer into the microcosm of these tiny creatures. What counts above all are their peculiarities as manifest in the diversity of chemical activity, specificity of biochemical reactions, high rate of reproduction, intensity of metabolism (conversions) and other factors. Microbes are all-important in global problem solving, particularly, in what relates to the ongoing population explosion, environmental protection, food and energy...
Each and every microbe "specializes" in a particular area. Acting in concert, microbes are capable of converting, changing and upgrading as good as any organic matter. According to Dr. Sergei Vinogradsky (1856 - 1953), Corresponding Member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences and one of the founders of the Russian school of microbiology, "microbes always turn up where they are needed" to provide for the "spontan ... Read more