What would happen without bacteria?
Without bacteria around to break down biological waste, it would build up. And dead organisms wouldn't return their nutrients back to the system. It's likely, the authors write, that most species would experience a massive drop in population, or even go extinct.
Where would we be without bacteria?
We wouldn't be able to digest our food properly without our gut bacteria. Crops around the world would start to die without the nutrients generated by microbes. Dead fish would float to the surface of lakes and oceans, and ocean life would be extinguished.
Is bacteria needed for life?
Animals, like humans, have microbiomes that are essential for their lives and functions. The most influential bacteria for life on Earth are found in the soil, sediments and seas. Well known functions of these are to provide nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus to plants as well as producing growth hormones.
Bacteria in the digestive system break down nutrients, such as complex sugars, into forms the body can use. Non-hazardous bacteria also help prevent diseases by occupying places that the pathogenic, or disease-causing, bacteria want to attach to. Some bacteria protect us from disease by attacking the pathogens.
Dead bacteria are either stuck and unable to reproduce, or they've been blown to pieces. Dead bacteria, on the other hand, are no longer metabolically active. They may still be blown apart into little fragments, no longer held together by a nice cell membrane (like popping a balloon).
Bacteria can live in hotter and colder temperatures than humans, but they do best in a warm, moist, protein-rich environment that is pH neutral or slightly acidic. There are exceptions, however. Some bacteria thrive in extreme heat or cold, while others can survive under highly acidic or extremely salty conditions.
A bacterium, though, is alive. Although it is a single cell, it can generate energy and the molecules needed to sustain itself, and it can reproduce.
Bacteria help protect the cells in your intestines from invading pathogens and also promote repair of damaged tissue. Most importantly, by having good bacteria in your body, bad bacteria don't get a chance to grow and cause disease.
Some bacteria are good for you, including the bacteria in your digestive system, or gut. These bacteria help to break down food and keep you healthy. Other good bacteria can produce oxygen are used to create antibiotics. Bacteria are used in food production to make yogurt and fermented foods.
But as long as humans can't live without carbon, nitrogen, protection from disease and the ability to fully digest their food, they can't live without bacteria, said Anne Maczulak, a microbiologist and author of the book "Allies and Enemies: How the World Depends on Bacteria" (FT Press, 2010).
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially your digestive system. We usually think of these as germs that cause diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called "good" or "helpful" bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.
Types of Probiotics and What They Do
The beneficial uses of bacteria include the production of traditional foods such as yogurt, cheese, and vinegar. Microbes are also important in agriculture for the compost and fertilizer production. Bacteria are used in genetic engineering and genetic changes.