The importance of leaning what makes us sick makes up a great part of the study of microbiology. Microorganisms can make us sick, cure us, clean up our dirty waste, and work tirelessly for us and often without our knowing of what they are up to. It is with intense effort that scientist have honed in on them and have purposely used the knowledge gained for the earth's benefits. Another way of explaining how microorganisms improve our lives is to see them living and working much the same way larger organisms do - mainly as humans. We are either doing good or doing badly, are causing problems or are becoming part of the solution; or sometimes both at the same time dependent on circumstances.
Their needs are comparable to ours. They need food, protection from outside forces and a means of reproduction. One difference here from humans is that some need oxygen - aerobic - to exist and to do their work, and some do not - anaerobic. hese minute helpers go by many names: Actinomycetes, Bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc., and many of these intermingle. The scientific classifications are large and are not always agreeable to every scientist. It, like the world the little ones live in is ever changing.
Of the three places where they live, in the watery world, on land and in the air, they are more plentiful in water. This is easily understood since seventy percent of the earth's surface is covered by water. They live in all kinds of watery conditions, hot water, in the frozen depths, in salt water, and they really flourish in swamps where earth and water meet. According to a website originating from India, .llsc.esnet.in/currsci/may252006/1325-PDF where tips for the above information was taken "half of the earth's biomass is microbial". Biomass meaning plant and animal products grouped in close proximity.
Actinomycosis is a known world-wide disease caused by a soil born organism and can infect both man and beasts. Veterinarians know it as lumpy-jaw disease. It causes pus draining lesions and is readily cured by another organism, a fungi better known as penicillin.
If it were not for the scavenger microorganisms our world would be overloaded with garbage; in fact without microorganisms we may well not be. They eat oil spills and consume decaying matter. Each type having a particular function in seeing that what is decaying is recycled into some usable form. In fact, these tiny little organisms are the true recyclers of the earth.
Without them we would have no fuel to keep us warm. And yes, some of them, especially those that derive their energy from the sun may well answer many of the renewable source of energy problems. As will those that decompose our land fills. These are simply nothing more than large compost heaps that can and are being used in some areas, to generate usable gas originating from the decomposition process. This is a renewable fuel source and is not to be overlooked. It makes new and viable "one man's trash is another man's treasure."
In addition to cleaning our environment, energizing us with methane from compost heaps, feeding us with a multitude of cheese delights, beer fermenting, whiskey making, they also provide us medicine when we have inadvertently come into contact with a disease causing organism. How then can any ecosystem do without them?