Friday, July 19, 2024

Microorganisms – David or Goliath

Written By Jyothiradithya R (Grade 6)


A microorganism or a microbe is an organism that is microscopic in size. Some microbes are single-celled and some are groups of cells. They include bacteria, protozoa, algae, and fungi. Even though viruses aren’t considered as living things, they are also sometimes considered microorganisms. Some microbes are harmful, while some are very important for our daily life. Some bacteria are extremely important for our digestion such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. These are also called gut bacteria.

Our microbiome is a group of microbes that naturally live on and inside our bodies. They contribute a lot to our well-being. Eating a range of fresh foods, mainly fruits and vegetables will improve your health and your gut bacteria’s. Eating a lot of unhealthy food can hurt and kill many of your gut bacteria and make your microbiome less diverse. It also makes you feel like eating junk food more and helps unhealthy bacteria thrive. Unhealthy bacteria grow better when you eat junk food and stimulate you to eat more and more of it, while the opposite happens with healthy gut bacteria. A healthy and diverse microbiome also improves your immune system.

Even though your microbiome is very important and helpful, not all microbes are. Harmful microbes that intend to invade our body are called pathogens. Viruses are considered lifeless because they are just a tiny container of DNA and cannot do anything until they stumble upon a host cell. Then, they make it create more copies of itself until the cell is full, making it burst open. Bacteria meanwhile are much larger, and have a completely different system of attack. The reason antibodies (medicines used to help cure diseases) work only on bacteria and not viruses is because antibodies attach themselves to the cell membrane (outer lining) of bacteria which viruses don’t have.

I have always been interested in microorganisms and the immune system, not only because they are fun to learn about, but also because they have taught me a very important value- size doesn’t matter. A single tiny virus can multiply into millions and cause a severe disease. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, a tiny virus managed to cause millions of deaths and brought the world to a halt. The immune system, full of single celled organisms can come together and stop that disease too. Also, a single cell in a mother’s womb can turn into hundreds of millions of cells in just a few months. Microbes have also taught me that unity is strength. Unless the immune system coordinates together, it won’t be able to fight a disease properly, and unless a virus multiplies, it won’t be able to do anything. Our immune system never stops fighting for us. Even though we don’t notice it, thousands of immune cells die fighting for us, and almost no one takes a moment to appreciate it. Microorganisms teach us how being steady can always make up for the size one might lack.  I hope you also find inspiration from nature and appreciate all its wonders.


Featured Image Courtesy – News-Medical



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