Monthly Archives: June 2011

We are not alone

…well I am alone on this blog.


I had this great idea, a blog! A blog bout protists! How original!  Here is the lesson, do the google search before you start. Below are just some of the pages that result from searching “protist blog.”  Is there room for another one?  maybe not but I think I will keep plunking away. cool and active cool, seems like a short term project art in french but has cool pics of desert radiolarians, active some old posts about circadian clocks in protists (haven’t read yet but I can ‘t wait).  I think the actual blog has moved, just search for blog around the clock.

I am not going to do the “microbiology blog” search.

Caron et al 2009

Caron et al 2009

This is not a brand new paper but I think it is a good jumping off point for my first post.

Dave Caron wrote in 2009 protozoa are important microbes and deserve to be included in discussions of microbiology (ref). He offers some examples of protozoa that have been pushed aside for bacteria or viruses. My favorite example is this: in the 1990’s there was an understanding that protozoa grazed heavily on bacteria, protozooloigsts (microbiologists) measured how much and how fast protists could eat their little bacterial neighbors. Mid 2000’s folks are all hot and bothered by viruses. “Wow look at all the viruses (bacterial phages) in the ocean”, people said, “there are so many, and are growing so fast that they must have an giant impact on the bacterial population.” Calculations were made and estimates obtained, and so viruses became THE major cause of bacterial mortality, my beloved protozoa were cast aside and forgotten. However, as Caron points out that if you add the estimated protozoan grazing and the estimated mortality from viruses you get more bacteria dieing or being eaten then you have being “birthed”… Now that is inconvenient.

Rather than just whining about being ignored what he suggests is that the microbiology community in general shouldn’t ignore the protists.

here’s the abstract

Our understanding of the composition and activities of microbial communities from diverse habitats on our planet has improved enormously during the past decade, spurred on largely by advances in molecular biology. Much of this research has focused on the bacteria, and to a lesser extent on the archaea and viruses, because of the relative ease with which these assemblages can be analyzed and studied genetically. In contrast, single-celled, eukaryotic microbes (the protists) have received much less attention, to the point where one might question if they have somehow been demoted from the position of environmentally important taxa. In this paper, we draw attention to this situation and explore several possible (some admittedly lighthearted) explanations for why these remarkable and diverse microbes have remained largely overlooked in the present ‘era of the microbe’.

and the link I think this is free access at ISME