Micro-Organisms

Micro-organisms, also known as microbes or germs, are living entities that cannot be observed with the naked eye but require microscopes for visibility. They are omnipresent, inhabiting various environments such as water, air, soil, surfaces of objects, and within living organisms. Air currents carry them from the Earth’s surface to the upper atmosphere, and they […]

Micro-organisms, also known as microbes or germs, are living entities that cannot be observed with the naked eye but require microscopes for visibility. They are omnipresent, inhabiting various environments such as water, air, soil, surfaces of objects, and within living organisms. Air currents carry them from the Earth’s surface to the upper atmosphere, and they thrive where there is sufficient food, moisture, and a suitable temperature for growth.

 

The invention of the microscope by Dutchman Anthony Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) revealed the existence of these tiny organisms. Leeuwenhoek, using a simple microscope, made the surprising discovery that rainwater collected from pools was teeming with microorganisms.

 

Micro-organisms encompass viruses, bacteria, protists, cyanobacteria, certain fungi, and algae. Bacteria, minute unicellular organisms or simple associations of similar cells, multiply by binary fission. They lack a well-defined nucleus, making them prokaryotic organisms. Various types of bacteria exhibit different shapes, such as cocci (spherical), bacilli (rod-shaped), spirilla (spiral), and vibrios (comma-shaped). Examples include streptococci, staphylococci, diplococci, and bacilli, each causing specific conditions like sore throat or typhoid fever.

 

Viruses, a group of pathogens, become noticeable only when in contact with living cells. They are extremely small, with a diameter ranging between 0.1µ-0.25µ. Viruses consist of nuclear material (DNA or RNA) enclosed within a protein coat.

 

Protists are single-celled animals visible only through microscopes, commonly found in fresh water and moist soils. Examples include Euglena, Paramecium, Trypanosoma, and Plasmodium.

 

Fungi, diverse in form, manifest as blue and green growth on fruits or the white/grey growth on bread. Common fungi include Mucor, Rhizopus, Penicillium, and Aspergillus.

 

Algae, mostly unicellular and small, contain chlorophyll and are abundant in water, moist soils, bark of trees, and stones. Phytoplanktons are free-floating microscopic algae and serve as a major food source for aquatic animals.

 

The cultivation of microbes under laboratory conditions, known as culturing, is essential for studying them. Culture mediums, such as agar, provide a platform for microbial growth. Identification methods involve microscopy, stains, colony types, food requirements, and oxygen needs.

 

Micro-organisms exist in air, water, soil, and sewage, with examples like viruses, bacteria, fungi, and protists. In our bodies, microbes form a normal population without harm, but under certain conditions, they can become pathogenic, causing diseases when body resistance is low.

 

Carriers of microorganisms can be living or non-living agents. Non-living carriers include air, water, and food, while animals like houseflies, mosquitoes, rats, and cats serve as living carriers. Vectors or carriers can transmit diseases such as malaria, sleeping sickness, cholera, typhoid fever, and yellow fever.

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