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  • Writer's pictureEnid Gonzalez-Orta

The Importance of Microscopic Organisms by Harrison O.

So often the world is viewed on a macroscopic scale and it can be difficult to understand the importance of microscopic organisms on the world. My introduction to microbiology has allowed me to see the many roles that microorganisms fill whether it be digesting food in our gut, their symbiotic relationship with plants, or their ability to chemically alter the nitrogen in our atmosphere. Despite all of the positive roles of microorganisms, they are also the source of infections are illnesses that can lead to death. Antibiotics help to kill these bacteria that can harm us but antibiotic resistance is on the rise as bacteria acquire new ways to resist them (WHO, 2020). If this issue is not addressed, we could face a huge health crisis. Luckily microorganisms can also be a part of the solution to this problem they’ve created. Microorganisms produce substances called metabolites that can be capable of providing antibiotic properties. There is a great deal of microbe diversity in the soil that has yet to be researched that has the potential for novel antibiotics (Sharrar et al., 2020). So, by studying the microorganisms in the soil we may discover many more antibiotics. This is where the Tiny Earth Project comes in

The Tiny Earth Project is a network of students and instructors that seek to compile information on soil bacteria from all over the world to search for potential antibiotic producers (Tiny Earth, 2019). During my Spring 2021 semester at Sacramento State, I worked in conjunction with the Tiny Earth Project to help compile information on soil bacteria from my neighborhood in Sacramento. I took soil samples from my backyard and grew them on a nutrient source called agar. Of the hundreds of bacterial colonies that grew I chose 15 to study further. I performed several different experiments to determine what species of bacteria I had and if they produced any metabolites with antibiotic potential. To my surprise, I found 5 different bacteria that had antibiotic properties. I then stored my samples on campus so that researchers can use them for further analysis. All of this information I compiled was entered into the Tiny Earth website to contribute to the growing database of bacterial isolate information. I hope that the data from my experiments will lead researchers to discover more novel antibiotics. This project made me aware of the growing antibiotics crisis that lies ahead of us but has given me hope that we will find solutions with so many people working with Tiny Earth to combat this growing crisis.


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