Welcome to the Digital Learning Center for Microbial Ecology

The Curious Microbe

Essays of the Extreme and the Unusual

Look around. You are not alone. The world in which you travel is literally crawling with living creatures, most of which are imperceptibly small. Within this microscopic world exist a myriad of microbes which are busily converting every imaginable source of energy into additional life. This microscopic world extends into the most inhospitable of habitats, and its inhabitants have evolved such intricate relationships with the macroscopic world that they are now inseparable. They indeed are an integral part of our own world. Within this edition of The Curious Microbe, our writers explore and explain a number of these fascinating relationships between microbes and their environments. These articles reveal the impressive versatility and diversity of microbes, and help us to understand the conditions which influence life at the smallest scale.

During the Fall Semester of 1996, Dr. Rick Martin taught a graduate seminar course through the Department of Microbiology at Michigan State University. The topic of the course, MIC 892, was "Extreme and Unusual Microbes". One of the assignments for the course was to write, in a tone suitable for a general (i.e. not experts in microbiology) audience, about some unusual microbe or about microbes that inhabit an extreme environmental niche. The students in Rick's class are all working on graduate degrees at MSU's Center for Microbial Ecology. We thought these articles would be of interest to visitors to the Digital Learning Center for Microbial Ecology web site. We hope you enjoy them, and would like to thank Rick, Jared, Sandi, Kirsti, Yarek, and Laurel for these contributions!

 Some Microbes Survive Massive Radiation! by Jared Leadbetter

 Magnetic Microbes by Sandi Clement

 Life Without Light by Kirsti Ritalahti

 Giant Bacteria Inhabit Fish Guts by Yarek Hrywna

 Bacteria Beware! The Life and Times of Bdellovibrio by Laurel Crosby