The Weird Things That Some Bacteria Eat

Jill Harness

You probably know that bacteria are everywhere, but you might not be aware of just how many ways bacteria help us, just by eating.

For example, Geobacter sulfurreducens can be used to clean up toxic waste, because it is able to eat energy produced by unstable uranium particles. When the bacteria are finished, the end result is a solid, stable form of uranium that is much easier to clean up.

In some cases, a bacterium's diet is amazingly specific. One strain of Wolbachia, for example, only eats the gonads of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. While it doesn't destroy the reproductive organ, it does alter the course of reproduction in a way that prevents the mosquito from carrying the deadly Dengue virus.

When you combine these facts with all the knowledge we have about the many bacteria that keep us alive, it's easy to see just how amazing and wonderful bacteria are. In fact, maybe we should even give them an offbeat holiday of their very own. When do you think National Bacteria Day should be scheduled?