Microorganisms
Bread acquires its texture from the action of microorganisms.

Microorganisms

One of the topics covered in KS2 Science is microorganisms. This includes what they are (viruses, certain fungi and bacteria), how some types can cause disease and how others are useful to us.

Microorganisms are tiny life forms, so small that we need a microscope to see them. There are many types: bacteria, viruses and some kinds of fungi. Did you know that if you could weigh all the microorganisms on the Earth, they would weigh more than all other species combined? Microorganisms are found in every environment on the planet - even in the stomachs of cows and your own intestines!

What can we use to kill bacteria? Are viruses alive? How do fungi help us to make bread? Try this quiz to see what you know about these tiny living organisms.

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  1. Penicillin, yeast and mould are examples of what?
    Fungi include single-celled microbes such as yeasts and moulds (including penicillium, which provides us with penicillin) as well as multicellular organisms such as mushrooms, which are not microorganisms
  2. Which doctor developed a vaccination for smallpox?
    It's been said that Jenner's work has saved more lives than that of anyone else
  3. What are antibiotics designed to fight?
    Antibiotics cannot kill viruses - this is why doctors do not prescribe them for colds (which are caused by viruses)
  4. Colds, influenza (flu) and chickenpox are caused by what?
    Scientists are not agreed on whether viruses are even alive. Remember MRS. NERG? Viruses don't demonstrate all seven life processes. Viruses aren't sensitive (they don't respond to their environment) and they don't reproduce on their own (they take over another species' cells, causing them to reproduce viruses)
  5. Salmonella, E. Coli and Listeria: these causes of food poisoning are examples of what?
    Not all bacteria are bad - our bodies use some kinds to help us digest food
  6. Many foods acquire their flavour or texture from the action of microorganisms. For which of the following foods is this not true?
    Bread and wine both use yeast which is a fungi. Yoghurt uses bacteria
  7. Compost bins are full of rotting organic matter, such as vegetable peelings, mouldy fruit and grass clippings. Which microorganisms help this material to decompose (rot)?
    Fungi also help with decomposition
  8. In order to see a microbe (a single microorganism), what would you need to use?
    You can see colonies of microorganisms with the naked eye, but you would not be able to see a single microbe without a microscope
  9. Which of the following are not microorganisms?
    Ants are insects
  10. Which of the following statements is true?
    Some microorganisms are so beneficial that life would not be possible without them. The bacteria living on the roots of plants allow the plants to get the nitrogen they need from the soil - and remember, all life on Earth is dependent on plants

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