Captioning is on. To turn off, click the CC button at bottom right. Follow the amoebas on Twitter (@amoebasisters)and Facebook! So over our winter break, we did a little
skiing and we also got a little sick. Petunia got Strep throat and Pinky had to get a root
canal. So what do both of these have in common? Well they’ve given us some inspiration. But besides not being fun…both of these, they were
caused by bacteria. And just a disclaimer an amoeba does not have teeth—and they do not have a throat either—but we really did get sick. Bacteria can make most people shudder. You think of germs and why wouldn’t we? Because many types of bacteria- they can make you sick. Strep throat, it’s caused by this little bacterium called Streptococcus, and it’s no little bug because it can make you very sick. It produces toxins that your body has to fight off in addition to causing mayhem as it grows in your body. Many types of bacteria can do this. Oh and for Pinky’s root canal? The root
canal was needed due to a cavity that got out of control and bacteria plays a major
role in tooth decay. We both had to get antibiotics. Your immune system—it can fight off many bacterial infections, but sometimes it needs the help of antibiotics.
And antibiotics are effective against many types of bacteria. Most forms of antibiotics- they’re going to target the structure of prokaryote cells. Bacteria are a great example of prokaryote cells. When you think of pro, think of it rhyming with no, it has no nucleus and it has no membrane bound organelles. Bacteria still have a cell membrane and genetic material
like the other cells, but no nucleus, no membrane bound organelles. Antibiotics will target them. One thing though that is interesting about
antibiotics—if you’ve ever been on them before—-you might notice that sometimes they can make
you feel a little bit sick to your stomach. Or they might make you feel like your appetite is negatively affected. And here’s the thing—-most antibiotics that are broad spectrum they’re not very super selective. They
destroy the bad bacteria—but they also get the good bacteria. And, yes, you did hear me right. Good bacteria. You actually have tons of good bacteria in your body—in fact, you have more bacterial cells in your body than you have human cells in your body. That’s a little bit scary. Bacteria are especially found in your digestive system. They help you break down food. And they also help you synthesize certain molecules, like vitamin K for example. And they keep other microorganisms from getting out of control. For example—you know bacteria is everywhere. You know what else is everywhere? Fungus. Yeast, for example, is a type of fungus. And yeast grows everywhere. A possible side effect of taking antibiotics is that you can develop a yeast infection. Why? Well if you kill off the bacteria, you’re taking out the yeast competition. The yeast doesn’t have to worry about the bacteria anymore and it can grow out of control. Have you ever wondered why the people on yogurt commercials look so happy? Well some foods, like yogurt, they need bacteria to help produce them. And the thought is that by consuming some of these foods, you might help contribute to this bacterial flora that lives in your
digestive system. And we can only wonder if maybe that’s why they look so happy. Bacteria are also one of the most important
decomposers in food webs. Scientists do a lot of genetic research using
bacteria as well—bacteria are cheap, they’re quick to grow in the lab. In fact, some exciting research to look up on the web is to see how bacteria can be used to clean up oil spills. Bacteria already can
do this—but the engineering part comes in when you’re trying to figure out an effective way to have bacteria clean up these oil spills without harming the environment at the same time.
Just something to think about next time you want to call bacteria the bad little microbe. Well that’s it for the amoeba sisters and we remind you to stay curious!