Биология и генетика

Microbes require warmth, moisture, air, and food. Some get their food from dead material, such as plant and animal remains and from soil; others from living plants or animals. As the latter take food from living things, they prevent them from growing normally. In animals they frequently cause disease and death.



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Microbes are little things we seldom see. Billions of microbes surround us' everywhere. They even share with us the food we eat. When we wash our hands with soap we remove only nine out of every ten. The name "microbe" comes from two Greek words meaning "small" and "life". It's a good name for them, because they are very much alive and very small indeed. They "are far too small for our eyes to see.

These tiny little things eat and grow, travel and multiply, and live li^es as real as those of any other plants or animals. They live in almost every sort of place: in water, in soil, in air, on dust, in milk and other food, in and on our bodies. We have discovered them by the work they do, and ..by observing them through powerful mieioscopes.

Microbes require warmth, moisture, air, and food. Some get their food from dead material, such as plant and animal remains and from soil; others from living plants or animals. As the latter take food from living things, they prevent them from growing normally. In animals they frequently cause disease and death. Microbes have a very simple way of eating: they just absorb the food into any part of their bodies.

Microbes vary in size and activity. A few microbes bring us disease and spoil our food. But far more microbes are our friends. Some of them bring about the decay of animal and plant remains. They keep the world free from being full of refuse. Others purify the soil for our crops, help us in making butter and cheese, leather and tobacco, and even our bread.

We are most concerned with harmful microbes that cause disease in the human body. Some of these enter wbunds in the skin and grow and multiply in the blood. As they do so, they produce poisons which may travel throughout the body and bring about death. Fortunately, most of these microbes have little chance of living or multiplying if the person is in good health.

These tiny creatures were first discovered almost three hundred years ago through a microscope which magnified them one hundred and sixty times. Nowadays it is usual to magnify them one thousand times, and the microcamcra can photograph them.

If twenty-five thousand microbes could be made to stand in a straight line, they would measure one inch. Of course, scientists have an accurate way of measuring them - they use microns. A micron is one-thousandth part of a millimetre. Each hair on your head is about sixty microns thick, and the average microbe is about one micron in diameter. Some are much larger - twenty five microns, and some are much smaller-one fifth of a micron.