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ETD 57 A. Are Bacteria Good or Bad? Explain with examples
February 26, 2014 at 11:42am


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Sophie Wulfing
April 12, 2014 at 9:57pm

Both!  They can have symbiotic relationships with their hosts.  They help cows digest.  E coli and Lactobacillus provide the body with Vitamin B & K, and if you're not exposed to lacto... as a baby, you become lactose intolerant because that's what helps you digest dairy products.  They help your body with defense.  They line your throat, skin, and digestive track.  And they take up space that would compete with worse bacteria.  They kill fungi and other bacteria (anti-botic), and balance the ph in your stomach.  Without that you get ulcers.  In plants they fix the soil with nitrogen by decomposing other material.  Cyano-bacteria  photosynthesize and are the primary producer of O2.  

Bad bacteria (pathogens - meaning they cause diseases.  Examples are streptococcus, tuberculosis, chlamydia, and syphilis (both STDs), botulism (in botox), cholera, salmonella (a mutated version), and Lyme disease.  Bad bacteria is 1% of all bacteria.  

SophieHumans can't eat cellulose because they lack the 4 chambered stomachs with bacteria that cows have. We still have bacteria in our digestive tracks, some of which are Ecoli and Lacto Bacillus. They also prevent adaptive radiation of harmful bacteria by taking up space and resources in our bodies. There are also nitrate-fising bacteria that provide plants with essential nitrates and phosphates through decomposition

Madison Boggan
March 07, 2015 at 1:15pm

Parent: Bacteria are both good and bad!!! This was a very interesting and eye opening subject-especially to see Madison's journal with a t-chart that had a longer list of good bacteria rather than bad. She said that this can be explained by the fact that less than 1% of bacteria are actually disease causing agents. We discussed the fact that bacteria have a very bad reputation  because they can be so dangerous and take so many lives that it clouds our vision of seeing their benefits-coming from a person who almost died from ecoli, it is interesting to learn that bacteria help with digestion, releasing vitamins from our food and helping plants grow. 

Student: The conversation with my mom about bacteria was very interesting because we have a lot of experience with both types of bacteria-beneficial and pathogenic. I have always been very weary of bacteria having watched my mom in the hospital when I was young not knowing if she was going to be okay-I learned through our conversation that this is very valid and that there ARE lots of bacteria that are pathogens. However, that there also ARE a lot of beneficial bacteria. The fact that they help release vitamins B and K is a great example of how they have personally helped me. Overall, my mom helped me to compare and contrast the two sides.

Amber Neathery
March 07, 2016 at 9:05pm

Student: Discussing this ETD with my dad was a good refresher. I explained to him how bacteria can both good and bad. Bacteria are beneficial in symbiotic relationships. For example, 1) Digestion- Ruminants are able to digest cellulose because of bacteria in their stomachs and humans are equipped with E. coli to aid digestion. 2) Defense- Harmless bacteria compete with pathogens for space. 3) Plant Symbiosis- Bacteria fix nitrogen, taking it from the air and making it into nitrates and cyanobacteria are primary producers that make oxygen and energy. Bacteria are harmful as they result in diseases such as cholera, lyme disease, malaria, anthorax, typhus, and MRSA. Additionally, the ecological role that they play can be disruptive to the environment. When feces is deposited in bodies of water, bacteria break it down and the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water is decreased, killing aquatic animals. Anaerobic bacteria also contribute to tooth decay and  mutant E. coli and salmonella arise from antibiotic-laden feedlots, causing food poisoning. 

Parent: bacteria are both good and bad. good for digestion but also disease causing. it was interesting that they cause fish to die because they use up oxygen. 

Makaila Heifner
March 23, 2016 at 5:59pm

Parent: Makaila explained how bacteria are both good and bad. We went over how bacteria are beneficial, such as how they help us digest. I think it was easier to think about why they were bad because they always warn us about harmful bacteria that causes diseases, so I felt like I had some background knowledge on that. 

Student: My stepdad and I discussed why bacteria are both good (beneficial) and bad (pathogenic). We started off with talking about why bacteria are beneficial since they help organisms digest their nutrients (we went over cows and cellulose, as well as E. coli in humans), how they can act as a defense against pathogens, and their role in play symbiosis. After that, we talked about why they were bad; we went over how they can be disease agents (i.e. cholera, MRSA, etc.), how they decrease dissolved O2 levels, and how they cause tooth decay. 

Zach Holtz
March 10, 2020 at 9:10pm

Student:   Thinking about it, this would be a good test question.  Some examples for bacteria being good are: symbiosis (working together to help each other), digestion, defense, kills fungi, decomposers, and acts as food.  For bad: less than one percent are bad, cholera, Lyme disease,  TB, typhus, MRSA, cavities, etc.

Parent:   It's always good to be reminded of the beneficial (good) vs. pathogenic (bad) bacteria. Beneficial bacteria help in digestion, immune defenses, keep our orafaces, skin, and gut working properly.  They also help balance the fungi/yeast.   It's also nice to be reminded that the pathogenic organisms are less than 1%. Most bad bacteria result in diseases like: Cholera, Lyme Disease, TB, MRSA, E. coli, etc.  

Alaina Brady
March 11, 2020 at 10:39pm

Parent: Alaina explained that bacteria can be both good and bad.  Most are good and live in a symbiotic relationship with a host.  For humans, bacteria live in us and on us.  In us, they help with digestion, and maintain proper balances to help keep us healthy.  On our skin they prevent fungus from growing on us.  Gross!  Bad bacteria are a small fraction, but unfortunately, they can  and have been deadly.  

Student:  I explained to my mom that bacteria can be both good and bad. The can live in a symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationship with whatever they reside on, with the host providing a place for growth and the bacteria balancing ph levels, helping our digestive systems, fixing nitrogen, and doing many other things. There are relatively few bad bacteria, but the ones that exist can be very deadly.

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