We Love Eu-Bacteria!

| 4/12/2012 1:08:35 PM

I recently had to write a paper on eubacteria as part of my studies in environmental education. I am not really a science type of gal….or at least I though I wasn't! I see myself as a yoghurt making, compost turning, veggie diggin’, chicken farmin, sore throat soothing, kid cleanin, gal.

As it turns out, I know more about eubacteria than I thought I did, and all along, it was right hear under my nose (and in my compost heap, and in my yoghurt). 

Apparently we owe our very existence here on earth to the unicellular prokaryotic eubacteria (cells with no membrane enclosed nucleus and no organelles). Eubacteria in the form of blue green algae was all over the earth about 3 million years ago. Lucky for us, because, these little dynamos, using photosynthesis, added oxygen to earth’s atmosphere…the beginning of something beautiful. The rest (as they say) is history! 

So, back to my yard, which, like the rest of the natural world, benefits from the presence of eubacteria. I can’t imagine what I would have done with out those little eubacterial helpers working busily in my yard helping to breakdown all that dead organic matter into useful, usable soil (with some help from my feathered friends). And while I’m in the garden, lets just talk about nitrogen fixing. While there are a few archaebacteria that will fix nitrogen (make it available for plants to use), once again, the responsibility of the whole “nitrogen fixing palaver” is generally left up to…yes, you guessed it, good ol’ eubacteria, known as rhizobia. Generally speaking, because of the “decompositional” role that eubacteria play, plants and animals could not get the nutrients they need to remain alive.

 Scratching Chooks 

People are filled with fear when they read the word “E.coli” in the headlines of the morning newspaper. But fear not! E.coli, another helpful eubacteria, is not necessarily always the bad guy. It’s usually just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time! E.coli lives in our intestines, helping animals digest food. E.coli, along with other eubacteria (known as enteric bacteria) found in the human intestine, actually make vitamins, which we, without so much as a “thank you”, quite happily absorb. If we think we have a lot to be grateful about to the eubacteria residing in our intestines, well just consider those animals that have a stomach with four chambers, known as ruminants. Their very existence is highly contingent on the billions of eubacteria floating around in their rumen. 

4/13/2012 10:15:34 PM

Excellent "Readers' Digest" version of the full course in bacteriology-- and with a sense of humor!

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