Man and MicrobesAs with many things in life, humans need more than nature provides, not only to battle hazards in nature but also to battle things we have created ourselves. You're asking, "What are these guys talking about?" Biotechnology! Scientists all over the world are experimenting with viruses, bacteria, and fungi for hundreds of reasons. Why mess around with these little creatures? They are the simplest of all organisms. They can also be the most deadly. That is reason enough to study them.
Microbes to Make MedicineScientists are working with microbes and the compounds they create to make new medicines to save our lives. You might be vaccinated for pox or the flu. Scientists have studied those viruses to see how they act. Then they came up with a way to teach your immune system to do battle. If you get sick at all, you will be able to fight off the infection. Labs are also developing drugs that help you fight infections after you get the disease. We already spoke about antibiotics. Labs are creating new and stronger antibiotics every day.
Microbes in WarAlthough nobody likes to talk about it, humans have a history of using disease and compounds created by microbes in warfare. Labs were built to create chemical compounds that would kill people. They also isolate diseases (viruses) that could be released to infect entire populations of people. Most of the world has chosen not to develop diseases for use in war. They realized how dangerous and uncontrollable these diseases are. Once they are out, they might not be able to be stopped.
Cleaning the EnvironmentLet's finish on a good note. Scientists are also working with microbes to help the environment. In reality, the environment did not need help; we're just trying to lower the negative impact we have on the environment. Good examples are the bacteria that have developed to break down oil in the water. If a tanker leaked and oil began to get into the water, these bacteria could be released to break down the oil. The resulting compounds would not hurt the environment. Scientists are also working with bacteria and fungi to help breakdown garbage.
Inside the Cell (Canadian Museum of Nature Video)
Encyclopædia Britannica (Antibiotic Resistance):