Print this article

Microbes and their fame through time

Keywords:

corresponding

ROSELLA AMANDA KONING

Evonik Nutrition & Care GmbH
Rodenbacher Chaussee 4, 63457 Hanau, Germany

Abstract

Microbes are everywhere; in and on our body, and present as a crucial part in every ecosystem. They have indispensable functions as they generate oxygen, recycle nutrients stored in organic matter to an inorganic form, fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into a usable form and facilitate digestion and nutrient availability. However, awareness on these facts has only emerged in relatively recent years.  


Microbes have been around on Earth since far before the dawn of man, who just a couple of million years ago lived as hunter-gatherers. Around 10.000 BC the way of living evolved into the creation of small settlements with agriculture as a new food source. Domestication of animals lead to the introduction of a higher diversity of microbes that humans became exposed to. This caused animal microbes to transmit to humans, either directly or by insect carriers. It increased our immunity to a larger variety of infections but also brought diseases like the pox in humans. Without being conscious of the existence of microbes and their consequences for daily life, humans were using them in a beneficial way in their food production (amongst others beer, wine, bread and cheese), but also suffered f