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The Variety and Roles of Microbes

Author(s): Barbara Tharp, MS, and Nancy Moreno, PhD

Organizing By Microbe Groups

Have students sort the Microbe Example cards related to ecosystem/environment into the appropriate microbe group. Be sure students understand that bacteria, protists and fungi are part of the nutritional and other cycles in ecosystems/environments, and that viruses are not (although viruses, which invade host cells, can affect population balances). 

Viruses are not essential to ecosystem functions. We usually cannot see microbes working in the ecosystem/environment because most are microscopic. Emphasize that although microbes are very small, their contributions are essential.

Ask students to make general statements about the roles of microbes (e.g., “Some microbes are helpful, but others can be dangerous.”).

Funded by the following grant(s)

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Grant Number: 5R25RR018605