The Web of Life (36) Bacteria


Really, they’re just stripped-down versions of us. ~ Bonnie Bassler

Along with archaea, bacteria have been on Earth 3.5 billion years. In that time, members of these 2 domains adapted to every place where life could possibly survive.

In the late 1970s, bacteriologists estimated 10,000 to 20,000 species of bacteria. Greater awareness has upped the species count to somewhere between 10 million and 1 billion. Even the latter may be an underestimate, depending on how you’d like to splice speciation.

By weight, 80–90% of Earth’s biomass is bacterial. Bacteria make up nearly 2/3rds of all biodiversity on Earth. Their enduring success owes to numerous facets, beginning with the fact that they reproduce with an efficiency as close to the limits of physics as practically possible.

One can only underestimate the little ones once derided as “germs.” New discoveries continue to enlighten as to the sophistication of bacteria.

Despite their small size and relative simplicity, bacterial cells appear to possess a robust and complex level of suBCEllular organization, both spatially and temporally, that was once thought to only exist in more complex organisms. ~ American microbiologist and physicist Nathan Kuwada