Microdiversity

Carton Virto, Eider

Elhuyar Zientzia eta Teknologia aldizkariaren zuzendaria

With the microscope we have approached this year the World Environment Day and the International Year of Biodiversity, lowering and lowering scale to an invisible world. In fact, microorganisms form the oldest and most fun group of living beings on Earth, living in every corner, from the tips of the fingers that reach this magazine to the chimneys of the seabed. Imagine a place in the world and you will find them there. Hundreds. Millions. Billions.

In fact, from the micro world it can hardly be said that biodiversity is in danger. Focusing only on bacteria, it is an estimate that there may be tens of millions of species, or even billions, that we do not know exactly. To date we have found them in all the ecosystems we have explored, and always much more than we think, but we have only begun to imagine how many they can be. Microorganisms are big strangers to us, as we often put them at the top of the preferred lists of more famous enemies than being friends and vital. Sometimes they will lose our lives, but they give us life every day.

Microorganisms are a huge world, both in their diversity and in their functions in ecosystems, as well as in what is to be discovered. We have realized that human beings have a time when they were among us, three hundred and fifty years very soon, and we have just invented the tools to capture their universe in sight (in detail). Since the almost individual growth of microorganisms, what we could, in growth plates, we have spent the last twenty years managing techniques that allow us to prepare the census of all marine microbes, exceeding the expectations detected. They have not made in vain three billion years of surface travel, creating, growing and reproducing.

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