Immunology

Breast milk and babies' saliva shape oral microbiome

Newborn breastfed babies' saliva combines with breastmilk to release antibacterial compounds that help to shape the bacterial communities (microbiota) in babies' mouths, biomedical scientists have found.

Immunology

Researchers study 'universal' protective human antibodies

Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have been studying how the immune system succeeds in keeping pathogens in check. For the first time, the researchers have now discovered antibodies that are capable ...

Immunology

Discovery of a new defense system against microbial pathogens

For the first time in the world, a group of researchers discovered a human immune receptor, which detects the invasion of pathogenic microorganisms. They thereby succeeded in identifying a so far unknown host defense mechanism. ...

Ophthalmology

Don't let summer fun interfere with keeping your eyes protected

While the warm summer months are perfect for spending time outside, several environmental factors can spell trouble for eyesight. One University of Alabama at Birmingham optometrist says knowledge of what to do, and what ...

Pediatrics

Fresh milk keeps infections at bay

A study by researchers of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich shows that infants fed on fresh rather than UHT cow's milk are less prone to infection. The authors recommend the use of alternative processing methods ...

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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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