The Variety and Roles of Microbes
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.”).
- Moreno, N., Tharp, B., Erdmann, D., Rahmati Clayton, S., Denk, J. (2008). The Science of Microbes Teacher’s Guide. Houston, TX: BioEd.
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