Nature is amazing. And to pay tribute to its wonders, researchers and other microbe enthusiasts come together on World Microbiome Day to raise awareness of the vibrant and diverse world of microbes. 

This year’s theme is ‘Diversity’, celebrating different diversities within the microbe world. 

Microbial diversity is critical to the environment. As a general rule, the more diversity, the healthier the environment. Microbes are likely to make up the biggest diversity on the planet. A single teaspoon of rich garden soil can hold up to 1 billion microbes.

Due to their adaptability and diversity, microbes have the potential to play a vital role in feeding our growing population. Microbes can be used as biological fertilizers to grow and protect plants, and they can be used for preserving our health. 

“It’s important to protect and celebrate our microbes, especially since they may hold the key to fighting environmental challenges such as global warming and cleaning up pollution,” says Lea Benedicte Skov Hansen, Senior Scientist at Novozymes.

A symbiotic relationship

Together with colleagues; Lea ventured into nature to gather clover samples. Back at the lab, the scientists mapped its microbiome and discovered something interesting.  

“We identified the microbe called Rhizobium, which lives in a symbiotic relationship with the clover. The collaboration between plant and microbe helps the clover acquire essential nutrition, while the microbe thrives on the sugars it gets from the clover plant,” she says. 

Staff Scientist in Novozymes North America’s Microbe Research group, Jacob Parnell, gets granular on the details: “As clover grows, it sends molecular signals, which bacteria respond to. This enables the clover to recognize Rhizobium in its roots. Once these bacteria are recognized by the plant, the physiology of the root changes to encapsulate the bacteria, eventually forming nodules,” explains Jacob. “The plant nodule provides ideal conditions to the bacteria, and in return, the bacteria provide the plant with nitrogen.”

Novozymes is the world’s largest provider of enzyme and microbe technologies, and our logo is based on the clover. You could say that Novozymes depends on nature and thrives on partnerships – just like the clover.  

“We analyzed three-leaf as well as four-leaf clovers, but found little difference”, says Lea Benedicte Skov Hansen. “The four-leaf clover symbolizes luck. We identified a single bacteria genus unique to the samples from the four-leaf clovers, which might be a lucky bug, but we need to continue investigating the wonderful world of microbes to discover the lucky microbiome!”

Read more about World Microbiome Day here

For more information about the critical role of microbes and their role in our future, watch the video below: