Meet the microbial superheroes names

Meet Fabio! | This Microbial Life

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The minute we entered this world, we started getting exposed to a plethora of microbes that were present in our surroundings and this started influencing our microbiota. The initial microbiota is also affected by the place of birth; for those of us who were delivered at a hospital had a different set of initial microbiotas than the ones delivered at home.

As infants, however, we had a very low number of microbes in and on our bodies than we have as adults. As we grew up the microbiota kept changing constantly depending on the food we were fed, the people we met and the microbes we encountered in the environment around us.

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The microbial populations shifted a lot during our early childhood; and it continues to change throughout our life during events such as puberty, pregnancy, menopause, illness, antibiotic treatment, hospitalization, major changes in diet, and the list goes on. What do they do? The microbes living in and on different parts of our body specialize to serve unique functions that play fundamental roles in our well-being. In recent tests, genetically engineered yeast in the vaccine delivered a common tumor protein that stimulated the immune systems of mice, thereby destroying tumors.

The results of these animal trials may eventually help patients with colon ,rectum, stomach, breast, or lung cancer. Recently, ethanol has been heralded as a cleaner, more energy-efficient fuel than gasoline, and yeast has emerged as a boon to fuel researchers because it naturally produces ethanol from sugars, an ability that traditionally has been used to leaven bread and ferment beer. At MIT, scientists have engineered a new yeast strain that can survive in high levels of sugar and ethanol, producing 50 percent more ethanol than its natural cousins.

But biofuelpotential does not stop there. UCLA scientists have created E. Coli that produce butanolwhich packs even more energy than ethanol. By genetically engineering bacteria and yeast, they were able to convert fatty acids into petroleum replacement products.

The human microbiota- meet the bacterial superheroes | Sciency Soup

In this process, the organisms can produce hydrocarbon-based fuels from organic waste. In addition to being renewable, this "Oil 2. The squid and Vibrio both get a good deal! Squid are not born with their glowing sidekick, so they have to search through all of the microbes in the surrounding seawater to find them.

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They catch Vibrio in a special snot-like trap on the outside of their belly that also serves to keep out other microbes that could be villains. Could you imagine eating the same food for your whole life? Now imagine if that one food were poisonous? Koalas do exactly that; they eat the leaves of a tree called Eucalyptus every day. Eucalyptus trees have poisons in their leaves that prevent most animals from eating them, but not koalas! Now that is a cool characteristic of a superhero!

But how can they survive on nothing but poisonous leaves? Well, it turns out there are special microbes in the tummies of koalas that work really hard to break down the poisonous parts of the leaves into smaller pieces that cannot hurt the koala. This means that these microbes are not helping break down the poisons, but they are not hurting the koalas either. One microbe that can break down the leaves, Lonepinella koalarum, is an important poison-fighting sidekick and forms a mutualism with koalas [ 2 ].

Scientists are still learning about these microbes that serve as sidekicks to their koala superheroes. The babies eat poop! Have you ever gotten an infection in a cut on your skin? Infections on your skin start when certain microbes decide to grow on you and would not let you heal! Even though most microbes do not cause problems for animals and plants, there are some microbes that act as villains in nature.

One example, a microbe that attacks amphibians on their skin, causes them to get sick. The microbial villain in this relationship, also known as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Bd for shortswims around in lakes and streams until it finds a frog or salamander and attaches to its skin. This is an example of parasitism, because the amphibians are harmed while the villainous microbe gets to grow and reproduce.

Amphibians use their skin to breathe and absorb important nutrients, so when Bd grows all over the skin it weakens the animal and it begins to suffocate. The animal will try to fight back by shedding its skin and releasing substances in the mucus layer on its skin, however, this is often not enough to get rid of the villain [ 3 ].

The sickness induced by Bd has killed off tons of amphibians around the world, and the death of amphibians affects all of us.

If all of the frogs and salamanders disappear, then the earth will be in big trouble.

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For example, amphibians eat a lot of insects, such as pesky mosquitoes that can become a real problem if there are too many of them. This is just one reason it is important for scientists to figure out how to help save the amphibians before Bd causes even more frogs to disappear.

Recruiting New Sidekicks for the Battles to Come Scientific research has helped us to learn about microbes that can act as sidekicks to protect us from villains. For example, the microbe Janthinobacterium lividum helps protect amphibians from Bd. Amphibians use substances on their skin to keep off certain microbes and to encourage the growth of sidekicks like J. One benefit of J. Could we save amphibians by introducing more superhero sidekicks to their skin? There are many scientists trying to figure this out right now by studying the battles between heroes and villains and the important role that sidekicks play.

Scientists can use their knowledge of symbioses to help keep plants and animals including us! Conflict of Interest Statement The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.