Bacteria, Fungi, Viruses

show/hide words to know

Microbiome: the community of microorganisms that live inside and/or on your body.

Probiotic: food or another substance that helps to replenish or replace microorganisms in specific parts of the body.

Beneficial Bacteria

Bacteria are the most abundant form of life on the planet. They are found in most every environment, from Antarctic ice, to boiling hydrothermal vents, to inside your stomach. Most of these do not hurt us. Actually, many of these organisms are very important to our survival.

Bacteria help many animals to digest food, they help trees grow, and they are important in the recycling of nutrients in the environment. They are also used in biotechnology applications to produce everything from food to energy to clean water.

Uses for good bacteria

Bacteria can be very helpful to humans and other organisms. Click for more detail.

You also have good bacteria within and on your own body. Did you know that you have ten times more bacterial cells in your body than you have human cells? Most of these bacteria are in your digestive system.
There, they help to digest substances that the human body cannot break down, like many carbohydrates and things called short chain fatty acids. It is important that we keep this population healthy. Eating probiotics can help to replenish good gut bacteria. On the other hand, taking unnecessary antibiotics can hurt this community. When this happens, we often get symptoms like diarrhea or stomach pain.

Images via Wikimedia Commons. Bacteroides image by PD-USGOV-HHS-CDC.

View Citation

You may need to edit author's name to meet the style formats, which are in most cases "Last name, First name."

Bibliographic details:

  • Article: Beneficial Bacteria
  • Author(s): Steven Hart
  • Publisher: Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Ask A Biologist
  • Site name: ASU - Ask A Biologist
  • Date published: July 24, 2014
  • Date accessed: June 12, 2024
  • Link:

APA Style

Steven Hart. (2014, July 24). Beneficial Bacteria. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved June 12, 2024 from

American Psychological Association. For more info, see

Chicago Manual of Style

Steven Hart. "Beneficial Bacteria". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 24 July, 2014.

MLA 2017 Style

Steven Hart. "Beneficial Bacteria". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 24 Jul 2014. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 12 Jun 2024.

Modern Language Association, 7th Ed. For more info, see
Bacteriodes in the human gut

Many bacteria like this Bacteroides species live in the human gut and aid in digestion of food.

This activity has a companion experiment Let the Germs Begin.

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