Microorganisms like bacteria and fungi - mushrooms - are often less visible, but at least as diverse as plants and animals. Bacteria the first living creatures on our plant and formed 4,5 billion years ago. They invented photosynthesis and produced the oxygen that changed the atmosphere so that plants and animals later could develop.
Bacteria are omnipresent on our plant. Or skin is covered with bacteria and our intestine a a big bacterial fermenter that processes the food we eat into its molecules that our body can take up. We human beings are a symbiosis of bacteria and human cells - with ten times more bacterial cells. Only very few bacteria a cause diseases or produce toxins. But even one of the most potent toxin from nature - botulinum toxin - is used for cosmetic applications as "botox". A large group of bacteria produces antibiotics, like the broad spectrum tetracyclins.
Here you see bacterial colonies as yellow balls. Each single colony with millions of cells has formed from one single bacterial cell.
Bacteria a an important source of industrial enzyme which are used to replace harsh chemicals and to save energy.
Bacteria are isolated from samples in nature with sophisticated methods in the research labs in companies like Novozymes or at universities. By selecting the right sources and cultivation conditions the desired groups of bacteria are selected for the enzyme screenings.
Here you see a mixture of bacteria isoladed from an apple seed. Many bacteria form pigments as protection against sunlight.
Pictures of bacteria are usually taken with a microscope, because the single cells are invisible for a normal camera. with a few millimetres in diameter, a bacterial colony is in the range of a normal camera.
The depth of field of macro photos is extremely small, even if you close the aperture. Either you take quite flat photos as above or you use a quite advanced technique: To show the three dimensional shape of the colonies I took 20 to 50 photos with changing focus and used focus stacking software to generate a photo that is sharp from end to end.
publication with kind permission of Novozymes
photos: Reinhard Wilting