Are Clouds Full Of Bacteria?

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Throw away that antibacterial soap, no use fighting it anymore. Scientists have found

Throw away that antibacterial soap, no use fighting it anymore. Scientists have found

bacteria are perfectly happy living in the clouds!

Clouds are pretty, and it’s fun to imagine what the shapes are. That one's a dinosaur

holding a picnic basket! That one's a box with… a lid. And they're both filled to

the brim with bacteria! Bacteria are literally everywhere, on every surface of everything

all the time. I mean, it's pretty obvious that bacteria can live in the air down here,

but they're tiny after all and thus can be easily picked up by the wind. Full disclosure,

I never even thought about this, but bacteria have been found almost 25 miles up and all

OVER in the clouds! Scientists have found bacteria living above rainforests and deserts,

mountains and seas, even inside hail and snow!

Before you freak out, that's not actually a bad thing; they might help in cloud formation,

and can even live in lightning-prone storm clouds to encourage rain or hail. Researchers

have found as many organisms in parts of the sky as in an average river.

Clouds look pure and pretty, but on the microlevel they're teeming with bacteria, algae, fungi

and other tiny plants and animals. Microorganisms may see clouds as a giant transportation system,

growing and multiplying so the colony can populate a new area, quote "piggybacking on

the hydrological cycle," said one scientist.

But, a new study in Environmental Science and Technology has found bacteria are quite

happy to live in the upper atmosphere. They're not just looking to populate new areas alone!

They're okay with this crazy fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants life!

This study was specifically done on a species of bacillus bacteria, in the Auvergne region

of France. Bacteria have been collected from the sky since the 1920s, so they probably

flew up and collected samples and brought them back to Earth for testing. But, somewhat

unexpectedly, the researchers found these cloud-borne microorganisms weren't dormant

and floating aimlessly, but were actively consuming saccharides, or sugars, which are

also found in that white puffy stuff! The sugars are blown there by the wind too; originating

from plants and microorganisms on the ground.

The bacteria use those sugars to sustain themselves, but more importantly as building blocks to

create polysaccharide armor which serves to protect the little guys. More research is

needed, but it appears the microbes have evolved to fight the stronger UV rays which reach

the clouds at high altitude; not to mention the sub zero temperatures. From there, they

multiply, help form clouds, and then rain, hail or snow back to Earth again. Amazing!

There's even bacteria on the Space Station guys. It's inescapable. Are you freaking out?

Bacteria everywhere!!! Or are you shrugging and living with the reality?

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