Ag Acres | Compost Pile | Home Sweet Home | Hot Springs | House of Horrors
Ice Land | Redox Mine Shaft | Root Cellar | Statue | Toxic Waste


Every time you walk on the ground you step on billions of microbes. Microbes live in the soil, on rocks, inside roots, buried under miles of Earth, in compost piles and toxic waste, and all over the Earth's surface. Microbes are found in boiling hot springs and on frozen snowfields. Microbes live in homes, in schools and on statues.

Millions and Billions of Microbes

Many millions of moving microbes make a mighty living munching manure in the soil. Each gram of soil may contain up to 1,000,000,000 or more microbes. That's as many microbes in a single gram of soil as there are people in all of China!

Rich Biodiversity

Not only are their many microbes in soil, there are many, many different species of microbes in soil. Some scientists estimate that each gram of soil may contain 10,000 different species of microorganisms! That's more biodiversity in one gram of soil than all the different types of mammals in the entire world. That's also more than all species of bacteria than have been cataloged (around 5,000)!

This section of the zoo includes many microbial habitats in addition to those found strictly in soil. These include compost, toxic wastes, hot springs, snow, and on statues.

Although we have grouped these microbes into "Dirtland," all microbes must be surrounded by water in order to live. However, a microbe can be surrounded by water less than 1 mm deep.

Some of the subsections of DirtLand include:

 © 2000 Comm Tech Lab, Michigan State University. This work was created with support from the National Science Foundation and the Center for Microbial Ecology at Michigan State University. Current maintenance is supported by the Comm Tech Lab.