Bacteria are a diverse group of microscopic organisms that can be seen in almost every environment on Earth.
They can be harmful or beneficial to plants, animals, and even humans. These are one of the oldest living organisms on Earth.
According to fossil evidence, bacteria have existed for over 3.5 billion years, making them the world’s oldest known life form.
They could stretch some 10 billion light-years if lined up end to end. So, in this article, we will talk about some amazing facts about these unique organisms of our ecosystem, called bacteria.
Interesting Bacteria facts
The types of bacteria
The types of bacteria are determined by their structure, shape, and feeding mechanisms. Shapes of bacteria vary from spiral, rod-shaped, or spherical ones, which are known as cocci bacteria.
Bacteria that are found in plants are actually different from those that are seen in animals. Some are heterotrophic, which means that they usually feed on organic carbon. Otherwise, they may either help or kill their host.
Bacteria can be classified into different groups depending on their shape, as aside from cocci or spherical bacteria, there are also bacilli or rod-shaped, spiral-shaped, or spirilla bacteria.
Bacteria reproduce through binary fission.
According to researchers, bacteria would still be on Earth even long after the annihilation of humans.
They reproduce very quickly through the process known as binary fission, or “division in half.” It is a specific type of asexual reproduction and the most common procedure among prokaryotes. However, it can even transpire in several single-celled eukaryotes.
However, humans were unable to catch their trace until 1674. While studying human mouth scrapings and pond water under the newly-invented microscope, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch scientist, detected them as tiny floating “animalcules.”
Bad bacteria are known as Pathogens.
Bad bacteria are also known as ‘Pathogens.’ This kind of bacteria harms the human body and may cause various diseases, like pneumonia, tuberculosis, rickets, cholera, and plague.
For example, E. coli or Escherichia coli is a common gastrointestinal tract bacteria that is also a part of the normal bacterial flora.
However, some of its strains might produce toxins that might cause serious infections.
Life on Earth could not survive without bacteria.
The cycle starts with the procedure of releasing nitrates from bacteria found in the soil. Each and every plant needs that substance to be able to create essential elements known as amino acids. From there, the cycle repeats.
Also, just one human cell contains ten cells of bacteria. Thus, you can imagine that your intestine has more bacteria than people on Earth. Hence, your body is full of bacteria.
Some bacteria can even perform photosynthesis, meaning converting sunlight into energy. These beneficial bacteria are significant producers in aquatic ecosystems.
Antibiotics can kill bacteria.
Antibiotics are important drugs that can kill or even inhibit the growth of bacteria. They are vital in the treatment of bacterial infections. However, their overuse has resulted in the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
In the 1920s, when Alexander Fleming made the remarkable discovery of penicillin, he also warned about the improper overuse of antibiotic drugs.
The Bacteria Staphylococcus epidermis is associated with body odor.
Originally, human sweat was odorless. However, the bacteria Staphylococcus epidermis resides on human skin and various other microorganisms and creates essences from sweat, resulting in the smell.
These bacteria mainly inhabit sweaty parts of the human body, such as the armpits; however, they could also be in other body parts like your back or nostrils.
However, if you live in East Asia, you can have a specific gene mutation known as ABCC11, meaning you do not produce sweat or have sweat that can attract bacteria.
Every person has unique belly button ecosystems.
Different kinds of bacteria reside in each human being. As per scientists, at least 1458 new species of bacteria can be seen only by using belly button material.
Even a volunteer was found to carry Japanese soil bacteria in his belly button, without ever being to Japan before the experiment.
Berry Marshall, the famous Australian physician, showed that bacteria are the reason behind stomach ulcers.
He downed a specific amount of bacterial culture to show that stress is not the main cause of stomach ulcers. For this research, he won the Nobel Prize.
Bacteria can heal
During the civil war, wounded soldiers were exposed to infection by worms. From these worms, bioluminescent bacteria can spring out.
Those bacteria could glow in the dark and eliminate pathogens or harmful bacteria. Thus, those soldiers can gain an increase in life expectancy.
Moreover, bacterial strains can even have a part to play in a lesser-known treatment procedure for cancer.
In this method, depleted bacterial strains of bovine tuberculosis go through urethral delivery and can even eradicate cancer cells due to the immune response as a result.
Bacteria are used in the making procedure of many foods
According to many researchers, the presence of good bacteria in foods can aid in our digestion procedure. Some examples of those bacteria-rich beneficial snacks are yogurt, cheeses, pickles, and sourdough bread.
Some other foods that are becoming popular nowadays are miso, tempeh, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut.
Bacteria can even enter an egg and grow inside.
The eggs are protected by a thin organic layer that has not yet been washed. This thin cover enables safe shelf storage for them.
However, properly washing the eggs can remove that protective layer and then expose it to bacteria; hence, those organisms could enter through the tiny pores of the surface.
Bacteria can create a specific scent.
There is a particular kind of bacteria that is responsible for the particular scent that you smell when it rains.
Those bacteria, known as actinomycetes, could be found in the soil. Along with causing the scent that emanates after the rain, it is the reason behind the earthy taste in water.
Moreover, the foul smells you find in your mouth after waking up are not caused by any food pieces but by a specific kind of bacteria. However, some other bacteria species help us in digesting food.
A particular kind of bacteria can travel through magnetic fields
There is a specific kind of bacteria known as magnetospirillummagneticum that can embody the free iron radicals that are present in its surroundings.
Then it can convert the components into active magnetite by aligning it in its body like a spine that might be used in traveling.
Bacteria present in Kangaroos could stop greenhouse gas emissions.
No methane gas is produced in the stomachs of Kangaroos. Scientists are astonished by this and trying to harvest the bacteria species they have in Kangaroos’ colons to see if anything could help them reduce greenhouse gases.
Cows are the worst offenders for producing methane in the animal kingdom. Hence, researchers hope they can reduce the amount of methane cows produce by using the things or bacteria they find in the tummies of Kangaroos.
Scientists have discovered 8 million-year-old bacteria.
In 2007, scientists found a glacier in Antarctica 16 feet below ground. They isolated and resuscitated some of those organisms and discovered that they were almost 8 million years old.
Now, some are being grown in laboratories but are not harmful to humans. Due to global warming, when the ice melts, these organisms will come back to life, and hence, scientists are eager to find out what they are mainly and how they will develop.
Scientists have used bacteria to treat bladder cancer.
Cows that suffer from bovine tuberculosis have samples taken from them. Then those organisms are cultured and weakened in a laboratory.
The bacteria that result from this is then injected into the of those people who are suffering from bladder cancer.
This treatment has proved very effective and outperformed treatments like chemotherapy in its ability to fight the disease.
Bacteria can clean up oil spills.
Over the last few years, some terrible and destructive oil spills. One of the most significant was the oil spill caused by BP in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico.
The damage to marine life and plant is incalculable. In the USA, scientists are working on producing strains of bacteria that eat oil.
If such disasters happen again, scientists can release these bacteria colonies into the earth and water, destroying the oil without harming the environment.
Bacteria can survive without food.
In situations like where they ran out of resources, these organisms deliberately stop meddling with the mechanisms inside them.
Bacteria can change themselves and survive under such situations, and this is a great example of something known as active evolution.
Moreover, under favorable conditions, bacteria can reproduce and grow rapidly. Some can even divide every 20 minutes, leading to exponential growth.
They can communicate
Bacteria can communicate with each other with the help of a procedure known as quorum sensing. This enables them to coordinate their behavior and even respond to environmental changes.
Bacteria are used to produce various types of products, such as biofuels, antibiotics, and enzymes.
Bacteria can be used in many ways.
Bacteria can be used to improve soil health and crop yields; hence, they can help in agriculture. They even help in the development of biofertilizers.
Some bacteria are used to develop biosensors that can detect biological molecules. Some bacteria are used to create probiotics that can promote good health.
Some bacteria are used in the development of bioplastics, whereas some are used in genetic engineering to create recombinant proteins and produce genetically modified organisms.
Hence, bacteria are an important and diverse group of microorganisms that play a vital role in our ecosystem. Though some are harmful to us, some benefit us and our environment.
At the end of this article, we learned about 19 really amazing facts about this unique organism called bacteria. These facts provide us with a clear picture of this interesting microorganism of our ecosystem. To know more, you may visit our website.
I’m a former teacher with a background in child development and a passion for creating engaging and educational activities for children. I strongly understand child development and know how to create activities to help children learn and grow. Spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and volunteering in my community.