Sunday, May 20, 2012

Microbes and the Modern World: Brendan Bohannan

Brendan Bohannan was the first of a series of 3 lectures that focuses on the idea of Microbes and the Modern World. As the first lecturer, his main point was to introduce microorganisms and our perspective of them throughout time. 
Dr. Bohannan’s main topic of discussion dealt with this new perspective of microbes in the modern world. In the old perspective, microbes were portrayed as scary creatures that caused disease and harm to the human health and were insignificant to the Earth’s diversity. But as we learn new things about the lifestyle of more and more microorganisms, we are starting to realize that not all microbes are harmful, and in fact a great deal of them are very helpful to us and allow us to live the life that we do. Instead of looking at them as our enemies, they’re more like our allies. And as we uncover more about our phylogenic tree of life, we are realizing that microbe diversity isn’t at all insignificant but actually extremely significant. As Dr. Bohannan mentioned, its almost as if microbes contribute about 95% of Earth’s diversity while the insects and everything else only makes up about 5% of the planet’s diversity all together. The second part of the lecture, Dr. Bohannan dedicated to talking about how instead of microbes harming us, it was more like we are harming them. He gave an example about how methanotroph diversity is being depleted from soil because of the increase of methane in the atmosphere due to human activity.
To get a little taste of his lecture, I have attached a link below:

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