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A microorganism (also can be spelled as microorganism) or microbe is an organism that is

microscopic (too small to be seen by the naked human eye alone). The study of
microorganisms is called microbiology. Microorganisms include bacteria, fungi, Achaea or
protists, but not viruses and prions, which are generally classified as non-living. Most
microorganisms are single-celled, or unicellular, but some are microscopic, and some
unicellular protists are visible to the average human.

Microorganisms live almost everywhere on Earth where there is

liquid water, including hot springs, on the ocean floor, and deep inside rocks within the
Earth's crust. Microorganisms are critical to nutrient recycling in ecosystems as they act as
decomposers. As some microorganisms can also fix nitrogen, they are also an important part
of the nitrogen cycle. However, pathogenic microbes can invade and grow within other
organisms and cause diseases that kill millions of people and other animals every year.


Bacteria are simple organisms that contain only one cell (they are single-celled). Their cell is
different to animal and plant cells because it contains no nucleus. It is also much smaller than
an animal or plant cell. Bacteria can be harmful, in which case they are often known as germs.
Harmful bacteria can cause food poisoning or very serious diseases like tuberculosis (TB),
tetanus or meningitis. However, many bacteria are harmless to humans; human skin is
covered in bacteria and the human digestive system contains many bacteria that cause no
problems at all. Bacteria need a food supply to allow them to grow and multiply. Many
bacteria are involved in the decomposition (rotting) of dead plants and animals.


Viruses do not have any of the structures found in normal cells. They do
not need food. They are made of a protein coat that contains a strand of
DNA. They need to enter a cell of another living thing to reproduce. They
then use the cell to make new copies of the virus to spread to other
organisms. Viruses are even smaller than bacteria. Diseases caused by
viruses include the common cold, flu, chicken pox, measles and AIDS.

It is a point of argument whether viruses are actually alive, because they don’t grow, respire,
excrete etc.


Not all fungi are microorganisms; mushrooms, for example, are fungi that can be seen
without a microscope. Fungi that are microorganisms include yeast, penicillin and the
organism that causes Athlete’s Foot.