Obstetrics & gynaecology

Maternal microbes mediate diet-derived damage

New research in The Journal of Physiology has found, using a mouse model, that microbes in the maternal intestine may contribute to impairment of the gut barrier during pregnancy.

Health

A dust-up: Microbes interact with harmful chemicals in dust

The dust that settles throughout our homes and offices almost always contains bits of chemicals that can cause problems for the human endocrine system, scientists say. But a new study indicates that the microbes we track ...

Medications

Antibiotic resistance across Wisconsin revealed by new maps

When a patient arrives at a hospital with an infection, her doctor must decide which antibiotic might have the best chance of curing her—no easy feat when disease-causing pathogens are increasingly resistant to multiple ...

HIV & AIDS

Gut microbiome may contribute to HIV transmission in high-risk men

Gut microbes from high HIV-risk men who have sex with men drive immune activation in mice and HIV infection in cells, according to a study published April 4 in the open-access journal PLOS Pathogens by Brent Palmer and Catherine ...

Oncology & Cancer

Global microbial signatures for colorectal cancer established

Cancers have long been known to arise due to environmental exposures such as unhealthy diet or smoking. Lately, the microbes living in and on our body have entered the stage as key players: while stomach cancer can be caused ...

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Microorganism

A microorganism (from the Greek: μικρός, mikrós, "small" and ὀργανισμός, organismós, "organism"; also spelled micro organism or micro-organism) or microbe is an organism that is microscopic (usually too small to be seen by the naked human eye). The study of microorganisms is called microbiology, a subject that began with Anton van Leeuwenhoek's discovery of microorganisms in 1675, using a microscope of his own design.

Microorganisms are very diverse; they include bacteria, fungi, archaea, and protists; microscopic plants (called green algae); and animals such as plankton, the planarian and the amoeba. Some microbiologists also include viruses, but others consider these as non-living. Most microorganisms are unicellular (single-celled), but this is not universal, since some multicellular organisms are microscopic, while some unicellular protists and bacteria, like Thiomargarita namibiensis, are macroscopic and visible to the naked eye.

Microorganisms live in all parts of the biosphere where there is liquid water, including soil, hot springs, on the ocean floor, high in the atmosphere and deep inside rocks within the Earth's crust. Microorganisms are critical to nutrient recycling in ecosystems as they act as decomposers. As some microorganisms can fix nitrogen, they are a vital part of the nitrogen cycle, and recent studies indicate that airborne microbes may play a role in precipitation and weather.

Microbes are also exploited by people in biotechnology, both in traditional food and beverage preparation, and in modern technologies based on genetic engineering. However, pathogenic microbes are harmful, since they invade and grow within other organisms, causing diseases that kill millions of people, other animals, and plants.

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