Saturday, February 21, 2004

The wonder of bacteria

I just finished reading the bacterial diversity chapter from Freeman's Biological Science textbook (first edition) and found a few great tidbits of information. (disclaimer: I have received compensation from Freeman's publisher for reviews.)
  • Prochlorococcus, a bacteria discovered in 1988, "may be the most dominant life-form on the planet. Oceanographers routinely find this organism at concentrations of 70,000 to 200,000 cells per milliliter of seawater."
  • There can be billions of microorganisms in a teaspoon of good soil.
  • Various species of bacteria and archaea can live in habitats ranging in temperature from 0C to over 110C.
  • Remember back to your intro bio class that talked about the Calvin cycle? Well, if not, the Calvin cycle is the mechanism plants use to turn carbon dioxide into complex organic molecules (the cycle is part of photosynthesis). The Calvin cycle is the only biochemical mechanism plants have to obtain carbon. Various bacteria have three alternate mechanisms to fix CO2 and turn it into organic molecules, and certain bacteria can use methane (CH3), carbon monoxide (CO), and methanol (CH3OH) as carbon sources instead of CO2. Take that, plants!
There are also some striking data on antibiotic resistance:
  • Penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928 and was put into mass production by the start of World War II.
  • "In 1941, 10,000 units of penicillin administered four times a day for four days cured pneumonia completely. Now, pneumonia patients who receive 24 million units of penicillin a day have a good chance of dying."
  • "In 1941 all strains of Staphylococcus aureus were treated effectively with penicillin. Today, 95 percent of the strains are unaffected by it."

1 comment:

Radagast said...

Importing comments:

Semantic Compositions
But does the CO2 want to be fixed? More so than the average dog or cat?
February 21, 2004, 10:31:46 PM PST