Teeming with Single Cell Life

This is the start page for the “mini-world” of bacteria, microbes, and viruses. This is one of the areas where science is making most progress - almost too much to report on

  • we have co-evolved with our gut bacteria, the microbiome, which form a very complex community which we need to “keep in balance”,
  • Bacteria can form biofilm communities on suitable surfaces, which protect them from discovery and removal,
  • Bacterial species can have great variability, and, as antibiotics become less effective, perhaps we need to understand them more deeplycancer-killing T-cells
  • Bacteria and viruses can be exploited to make a range of useful chemicals and products, though it is to be hoped this is always done in a safe way
  • Everything exists in ecosystems, and disrupting these can have negative side effects.

The mini-bugs seem to evolve rapidly, perhaps because there are so many of them - 1 kg of soil (2.2 pounds) contains 2 trillion bacteria, 400 million fungus cells, 50 million algae, 30 million protozoa, and more than a thousand mites, insects and worms (and their eggs).

This field is vitally important to us - the World Health Organisation has recently reported that resistance to antibiotics is ever more widespread, following on from a survey of all member states. Worldwide, between 25 and 90% of all Staphylococcus infections are now in the superbug form, MRSA, which is resistant to one or more antibiotics, although only 114 of the 194 member states have national data on this.

This is worrying news for anyone who visits a hospital - antibiotics are becoming less and less effective. This is mostly due to their routine use in animal rearing, and uncontrolled use in countries where antibiotics can be bought “over the counter”. Using antibiotics indiscriminately has helped the bugs to develop resistant mutations.

There are a number of sub-pages with more information on aspects of this

However, this is not the only way of looking at health:-

A Modern Spiritual View.

Alternative therapists generally aim to help the body heal itself, perhaps looking at the chakras and energies, and using a range of non-invasive treatments, often aimed at creating a healing space and strengthening and developing the whole person. These types of treatment would not have any of the negative side effects of treatments with modern drugs, but, their opponents disagree. Some other methods look for causes, mostly in the mental or emotional realms.

Theosophical model. Theosophy also provides a model of life that casts an interesting light on this. Usually we think only of the 4 main kingdoms in nature, the mineral, plant, animal and human, and that the members of these groups evolve. We may occasionally mention the “little lives” of the organs, cells and atoms which make up the creatures of those kingdoms, but the bacteria and microbes are not really part of the system. Though some are clearly symbiotic, others are parasitic, but the vast majority exist in soil and water, and we usually have no contact with them.

Perhaps we have to content ourselves with saying that they all evolve, though it is hard to see what they are evolving towards – perhaps the way of evolution of all the “big” animals and plants was that they all derive from early multi-celled creatures, where 2 or more different bacteria or microbes combined to form a hybrid multi-celled creature, which then hybridised and evolved further. Perhaps this is what they will do, as they can’t evolve very far as a single cell ! Perhaps further research will make this clearer.