BACTERIA: WHAT ARE THEY? ARE THEY HARMFUL OR USEFUL?

Bacteria are microscopic organisms that live everywhere in the world; from the coldest corner of the world to harshest climates, from plants to animals, and even inside us. In scientific language, they are called prokaryotes (pro=before karyote=nucleus) or monerans. According to scientists, the first-ever bacteria was evolved approximately 2 billion years ago. Hence they are one of the oldest living organisms on the planet.

Bacteria are said to be resistant to all harsh conditions because of the presence of a highly protective coat called the cell wall. This wall helps them to get adapted to all kinds of surroundings. The cell wall contains an important structural element known as peptidoglycan.

Bacteria can harm other organisms and cause diseases in them:

1)In plants they cause rotting, cankers, aster yellows, bacterial wilt, etc

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2)In animals they cause anthrax, actinomycosis, botulism, tuberculosis, etc

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3)In humans they cause a variety of diseases like tetanus, plague, gonorrhoea, pneumonia, cholera, typhoid, food poisoning and many more.

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Most of us think that bacteria only harm us than do any benefit. But that’s not true. Many bacteria help us in so many ways like for example a bacteria named lactobacillus helps us in making curd from milk. Curd is an excellent source of vitamin B 12 which helps in increasing gut health.

Bacteria can also produce antibiotics which help us to prevent or treat some infections in the body. Soil bacteria are beneficial to farmers as they help in degrading the organic matter (humus or decomposed leaves and organisms) present in the soil.

After performing a lot of experiments and research, scientists have proved that we can use bacteria to make substances or chemicals useful to us. This new branch of science is called biotechnology. Hence we can say that bacteria are both harmful and harmless/useful to us and other organisms.

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