855-424-6776

Bacteria have been largely implicated in the development of a number of diseases including infectious disorders, neurological disorders, and even cancer. Bacteria can affect human health in several ways by causing damage to vital organs and interfering with their functions. Of course this is just one side of the story (and of course we know the secret to avoiding disease is by maintaining a healthy immune system)! But did you know there are benefits of bacteria in nature that prove the importance of their existence on Earth?

While some bacteria play a key role in supporting a healthy gut microbiome, some bacteria help in an indirect way by contributing to the processes occurring in the environment.

This article is focused on learning the benefits of bacteria in nature, which point to the importance of their existence on the earth.

Benefits of Bacteria in Nature for the Environment and Ecosystem

1. They Support the Phosphorus Cycle

Phosphorus is one of the building blocks of all living cells. It also forms a part of the structure of cellular DNA. Cells need this mineral for the formation of membranes and some molecules used in the metabolic processes.

Research studies have suggested that microbes in the air can gain the energy needed to perform their basic functions by converting phosphite to phosphate. This mechanism is known as phosphorus redox (reduction-oxidation) cycling.

Several models of the environment have suggested that phosphorus redox cycling and the ability of bacteria to use phosphite for energy generation are surprisingly widespread in the ecosystem. The existence of bacteria in the environment supports these mechanisms thereby maintaining the ecosystem.

2. They Can Help Clear Oil Spills

Oil is one of the most important natural resources. It is a non-renewable resource having limited production. The transportation of oil is usually done from oil-producing countries to non-oil-producing countries via sea routes.

Sometimes, oil leakage can occur in the storage tanks of ships resulting in oil spills into the ocean water. The oil leakage can also occur as a result of human error or accident.

Oil spills are a major concern as they leave a significant adverse impact on marine pollution. The leaked oil can disperse in water or form a thick layer on the water’s surface. This layer can easily get carried by water currents toward the coastal areas where it causes immense harm to coastal organisms including mammals, invertebrates, and birds.

Dispersed oil, on the other hand, is often ingested by fish resulting in abnormalities in their development and reproduction.

These consequences can be reduced to some extent by the activities of bacteria having the ability to clean and remove the oil from the seawater by promoting the degradation of hydrocarbons. These bacteria are called hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria.

For example; Pseudomonas can break down and digest hydrocarbons in oil. A species of bacteria called Pseudomonas putida is, hence, widely used in oil spill bioremediation and decontamination for protecting the life both on sea and land.

3. They Protect the Soil

Some bacteria have the ability to change the soil environment such that certain species of plants can exist and proliferate more easily. Also, in the places where new soil is getting formed, some photosynthetic bacteria begin to colonize the soil and recycle nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon, and other soil nutrients thus producing the first organic matter.

Also, most soils are a graveyard for dead bacterial cells. As bacteria have a very simple structure, they serve as the bag of enzymes or soluble bags of fertilizers. Their ability to live and survive under starvation conditions, including soil water stress, allows them to reproduce quickly, especially when optimal food, water, and environmental conditions are restored. As a result, the bacterial population can easily double in just 15 to 30 minutes.

Flourishing populations of these bacteria in the soil can improve soil productivity, and thus, provide a better crop yield over time.

Additionally, symbiotic bacteria like Rhizobium attach to the roots of some leguminous plants. When it comes to the benefits of bacteria in nature, symbiotic bacteria can increase soil fertility by promoting the conversion of atmospheric nitrogen into certain organic compounds.

The Benefits of Bacteria in Nature Are Clear

These benefits point to the fact that bacteria are essential for the maintenance of the ecosystem. They play a crucial role in protecting life on land and water and also help to maintain and improve soil fertility. This, in turn, can ensure better availability of food resources for humans as well. These activities of bacteria suggest why their existence is important for the ecosystem and environment.

References:

  • https://www.energy.gov/science/ber/articles/microbes-use-ancient-metabolism-cycle-phosphorus
  • https://www.irejournals.com/formatedpaper/1703219.pdf
  • https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/41642/Soil_bacteria.pdf