Can All The Microbes Be Destroyed?
Tina Marie Partin
Somerset Community College

Bio 226 Principles Of Microbiology
Dr. Md. Jahurul Karim

Can All The Microbes Be Destroyed?
With all the emerging technology which allows us to study and understand microbes, it is now imperative to ask ourselves if destroying all the microbes on earth would be a possibility. The answer is no. Destroying all microbes on earth would not only be impossible, it would be impractical. Microbes assist humans and the earth in many ways, such as making food edible, maintaining normal flora in the human body, microbes are also used in many modern medicines, and lastly microbes are involved in cycling vital elements such as carbon and nitrogen, breaking down wastes and dead organisms into simpler substances plants can use in photosynthesis (Cohen 2002). Although microbes benefit us in so many ways, many scientists today have pondered destroying all microbial life. Thankfully, due to the hardiness and the will to survive, most microbes have certain characteristics which would allow them to survive extinction. Not only would microbes have the ability to fight back, microbes behave so differently that destroying them with one source would be impossible. If the world did have all the technology needed for the destruction of all microbes including infectious diseases, it would become a deserted waste land that would not be suitable for life.
In order to understand why microbes would survive an assassination attempt, we must understand what characteristics microbes have that would ensure their survival. Destroying all microbial life is impossible due to the characteristics of most microorganisms. Like most living things, microbes have many characteristics that would allow them to survive destruction. For example, some of the most extreme survivors of microbes are known as extremophiles. These microbes have been found living in a few inches below the surface in suspended animation without water. The microbes that can survive without water have activated a sequence of DNA, which compensates for lack of water. Scientists have also found microbes that survive beyond -100? F; these psychrophiles have a remarkable cellular ingredient that prevents the formation of ice crystals, while others huddle together into mats of biofilms. Other microorganisms however have evolved a love for heat. Miles below the ocean?s surface, scientists have recently discovered organisms thriving in unforgiving territories where temperatures exceed 600? F. In this kind of dark landscape photosynthesis is not a possibility so certain kinds of single-celled archaea have developed a unique alternative called chemosynthesis: a means of converting inorganic hydrogen sulfide dissolved from rocks into food. And finally when it comes to acidity, human?s blood has to stay between 6.8 and 7.8 to support life. But scientists have found microbes in Yellowstone National Park that were adapted to a pH of 10. These microbes have the ability to keep the pH inside their cells neutral. With extreme characteristics such as these, microbes are determined to ensure their survival (Cohen 2002).
After understanding some of the extreme characteristics of certain microbes, it is imperative that science must understand that destroying microbes by one source would be impossible. It is estimated that microbes have been around for billions of years, so they have endured some of the most extreme types of life. When we look around we don?t see microbes but they are everywhere. They around us, they are on us, they are in us. Most of us understand that if we destroy microbes, we destroy ourselves. Let?s just pretend for a moment that human life does not need the imperative essentials provided by microbes and we can do without them. So now the question is: How are we going to destroy them. From the information above we see that some microbes have the ability to survive the most extreme of heat, some survive the most extreme of cold, some doesn?t need water at all, and some live in the most extreme of acidic levels. Also many viruses live inside our own cells, so we could not kill them without destroying ourselves. It seems that evolution has solved many problems, except immunity against viral or bacterial invaders. Another thing that some microbes due to ensure their survival against attack is that they will shed their pathogenicity even under dire conditions just to remain resistant to the dreadful conditions and to adapt to it. They sometimes make a shield or tough coat around them by secreting certain chemical compounds.