No organism is an island

No organism is an island

author icon by Sarah Richardson
date icon 02.15.2019

There is no such thing as a successful single organism ecosystem. This is important for wildlife, agriculture, and board rooms. Diversity is how we survive. Every multicellular organism lumbers around with an entourage of bacteria that have a direct and measurable impact on its existence. Every plant cultivates its own crop of roommate microorganisms, encouraging helpers and stamping out mooches. And beyond the animals, plants, fungus, and bacteria, we have a truly staggering number of viruses, most of which we are beginning to realize, do NOT cause disease!

And while organisms specialize and cooperate, their genetic makeups reflect this, changing, adding, and discarding genes over time in response to success or failure at their new tasks.

The goat shown here, like all organisms, harbors all sorts of various bacteria and their bacteriophages. The Escherichia coli in this photograph is under mass attack by T4 phage virions. The soil also harbors its share of microorganisms, pictured here is a scanning electron microscopy of Streptomycetes and its bacteriophage.

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