FEB 16, 2018 8:32 PM PST

Superpowered Bacteria

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

There are trillions and trillions of bacteria on earth, and some of them have unique talents. One, Geobacter metallireducens, uses electricity for energy. It has biological wires to help it conduct electricity. Another unusual microorganism uses enzymes to chew up the plastic PET. It's possible they could help us clean up our landfills one day.

Some bacteria can survive extreme environments, like the intense heat of hot springs. One special microbe can survive huge blasts of radiation. It can make carotenoids, which also give carrots their color, and it carries around several copies of its genome so it can fix errors easily. Scientists are hopeful that we can harness the powers of this microbe to clean up toxic waste.

Not all bacteria use their powers for good, however. One, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, uses its strength to infect a host. Learn more about them from this SciShow video.
About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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