Anti-microbial resistance: When microbes get the better of humans

anti microbial resistance, microbes
Antibiotic resistance is putting achievements of modern medicine at risk as life-saving activities such as organ transplantations and chemotherapy | Image - Eunice Dhivya

Anti-microbial resistance. It’s a term which by itself seems to be a positive thing. Who wouldn't want to have resistance against microbes? Everyone, in these scary coronavirus times.

But what are microbes? These are basically tiny organisms which we normally cannot see with our naked eyes. These include bacteria, archaea, viruses, fungi, prions, protozoa and algae.

Microbes are vital to pretty much all processes on earth as their activities are the driving force of nature. Microbes matter, and matter a lot because they affect every aspect of our lives — they are in us, on us and around us. They might be tiny and close to invisible but have an unimaginably huge presence on earth.

The best way to take stock of this is by calculating their biomass in carbon. At present all microbes together make up 93.2 gigatons of carbon biomass. Now compare that to humans who are just 0.06 gigatons of carbon! The entire human population on earth is barely 0.05% the biomass of microbes.

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