microbes, food, soil

Nausicaa image

Nausicaa

Nausicaa

  • toxic jungle with insects and spores fatal to humans and their agriculture
    • versus
  • jungle struggling to clean the earth from toxins/mismangement of humans

Metaphor

  • human fears of bugs (insects, microbes, bacteria) -> eradicate them
    • versus
  • living with insects and micro-organisms because they may be beneficial
Springtail (bug) image

Springtail: credit Alex Hyde/SPL

Microbes – growing sense of their importance

  • Realization that not all bacteria/microbes are harmful pests
  • Realization that we are them
  • A: Symbiosis between us and microbes (living with)
    • relatively recent areas of research and terms:
      • microflora – micro-organisms (bacteria/fungi) that exist as part of us and apparently work for us in a symbiotic relationship
        • i.e. gut flora, help digestive processes
      • microbiome – genetic material of these organisms
symbiosis diagram

symbiosis

  • B: Complex life forms (including us) us are essentially and deeply symbiotic
    • Organelles within cells (part of cell with its own membrane)
      • mitochondria in animals
      • mitochondria and chloroplasts in plants
    • theory of symbiotic evolution/symbiogenesis
      • one early life form engulfed another and they lived together
      • remember move from prokaryote (single-celled creature) -> eukaryote (cells with nucleus + potentially multi-cell creature (us)) 0.6 billion years ago

“There is no Truth,” Margulis said, “but science is the best way of knowing.”

Soil Saviours – Costing the Earth, BBC podcast

    • (listen at beginning and 6:20): ->1:23 intro; 4:30 soil as shrinking resourse; 5:45 desertification; 6:20 conservation agriculture; 11:30 french minister;15:50 soil scientist says 0.4% target unrealistic, but changing agriculture is a no brainer for good; 17-22:14 mob grazing, regenerative agriculture; 24  soil scientists demurs
  • 4 per 1000” initiative, started at Paris COP, which aims to improve the organic carbon matter in soil stocks by 4 parts in 1000 per year
  • Change agricultural practices to fix more carbon in soil: conservation agriculture
    • “minimize the disruption of the soil’s structure, composition and natural biodiversity.” Cornell
    • by no tilling/ploughing; crop rotation; constant green cover (note still uses chemicals but less)
  • Video from 4 per 1000

 

Just when you thought microbes were your friends: BE AFRAID BE VERY AFRAID

Climate Change and spread of invasive pests

  • a study suggests “Crop pests and diseases are moving towards the poles at about the same speed as warmer temperatures.”
  • fungicides and pesticides have to deal with more pests
  • pests and diseases may become resistant to fungicides and pesticides

Antibiotic Resistance

  • Antibiotics developed since 1940s and widely used to treat infections
  • Bacteria becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics

Frameworks for understanding insects/bugs/microbes will influence how individuals, societies, governments and science deal with environmental challeges.