Michael Gillings (Credit: Chris Stacey, Macquarie University)
Science paper Friday, 15 September 2017
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Wastewater, tourism, and trade are moving microbes around the globe at an unprecedented scale. As we travel the world we leave billions of bacteria at every stop.
As with rats, foxes, tigers and pandas, some microbes are winners, spreading around the world into new ecological niches we’ve created. Others are losing, and might face extinction. These changes are invisible, so why should we care?
“Yes, our survival may depend on these microbial winner and losers,” say a team of Australian, Chinese, French, British and Spanish researchers in a paper published in Science today.
“The oxygen we breathe is largely made by photosynthetic bacteria in the oceans (and not by rainforests, as is commonly believed),” says Macquarie University biologist Michael Gillings.