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Are microbes good, bad or harmless?

Poll activity looking at how microbes are often categorised into 'good', 'bad' and 'harmless'.
© University of Reading

Are the majority of microbes good, bad or harmless?

Current estimates suggest that there are at least a billion microbial species on Earth. It’s likely there are far more microbes on our planet than there are stars in the known universe. What are they all doing and how do they affect our lives?

We’ve all seen TV commercials for toilet cleaners and disinfectant sprays that claim to kill 99.9% of bacteria, including the notorious antibiotic resistant MRSA. Do we really need to kill 99.9% of microbes to keep us safe? What about advertisements that claim you should eat more “good bacteria” to keep your gut healthy?

Clearly some microbes cause disease whilst others are good for our health, and some don’t directly affect our health at all. Thinking about what you already know about microbes and human health, what do you consider the split to be for microbes as being good, bad or harmless?

The ‘Vote’ link will take you to an optional activity in Here, you’ll find the three options: good, bad or harmless where, from your own perspective, you can use the ‘plus’ and ‘minus’ buttons to change the weighting as to where you feel the balance lies between “the good, the bad and the harmless”.

Vote Results
Please note: JavaScript is required to launch the voting application Mentimeter.

Once you’ve ‘spent’ your points, check the results to see how other learners have voted, using the ‘Results’ link, above.

Here are the results as of Wednesday 14th October 2020.

bar chart showing the results of the question: are microbes good (40%), bad (26%) or harmless (35%)

Once you’ve completed the poll, discuss your choice and the reasons behind your decision in the comments area, below.

© University of Reading
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Small and Mighty: Introduction to Microbiology

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