Most people associate microorganisms, such as bacteria fungi and protists, with little more than making people sick. While some can create serious problems for us, these amazing creatures deserve more positive attention for their role in how life works. In fact, the number of bacteria cells in and on your body is greater than the number of your own cells. Some of the bacteria, including a type of E.coli in our digestive system, help us by producing vitamins and controlling levels of potentially harmful strains.

The recent sequencing of the panda genome has provided even greater insight into the significance of microorganisms. Panda’s have a mutation in the gene that enables them to taste food high in protein, including meat and cheese. Since they are unable to taste these foods, they eat bamboo as an alternative. Interestingly, panda’s do not contain the genes necessary to produce the enzymes to digest bamboo. So how do they get any nutrients? The small organisms living within their digestive system are responsible for releasing the nutrients from their diet. Amazing!

How much of our own health due we owe to the organisms within us?