Questions for ‘Bacteria are all around us — and that’s okay’


From the great outdoors to our internal organs, the world is awash in unseen bacteria (some seen growing on plate here). Most people assume (unfairly) that these germs are all dangerous. Biologists know better. Studying these poorly understood microbes could better reveal how they function as the "invisible backbone of life."


To accompany feature ‘Bacteria are all around us — and that’s okay’


Before Reading

1. You can’t see bacteria with the unaided eye, but they’re all around us, no matter where we are. How does this make you feel?

2. What sorts of jobs do you think bacteria perform in the environment? Why do bacteria matter?


During Reading

1. Scientists estimate that what percentage of the world’s bacteria species are still undiscovered?

2. What is a greenhouse gas?

3. Based on this story, how do some scientists identify where to look for bacteria that interest them on the ocean floor?

4. What’s the deepest place on Earth? How far below the ocean’s surface is it?

5. How do microbes affect the flavor of sourdough bread?

6. What are biofuels?

7. What are enzymes?

8. Where did Steve Singer find bacteria that are good at breaking down plants?

9. What is a metagenome?

10. What is the Earth Microbiome Project? How many scientists are participating in it?

After Reading

1. Why do scientists care about bacteria eating methane on the ocean floor? How might these bugs help our planet?

2. How can researchers discover new species of bacteria without ever seeing them under a microscope?