Dr Richard J. Roberts
Research Director, New England Biolabs
10 Jan 2005, 30 Biopolis Way, Matrix Building, Level 4, Theatrette 3A, Singapore 138671, 6.15 pm - 7.15 pm
Friends and Foes - the unseen bugs who share our planet
We live in a fascinating world surrounded by life. Much of that life is clearly visible like the plants and animals that we see every day. However, far more is invisible to the naked eye and it is this realm, the microscopic world that will be discussed in this talk. These unseen bugs can be friends such as the Bifidobacteria that we find in yoghurt or they can be our deadly foes such as Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that caused the Black Death and decimated Europe in the Middle Ages. This unseen world is fascinating and is far richer and more complicated than the macroscopic world of elephants and giraffes. These organisms live in and on our bodies as well as in every environment, even the harshest, found on earth. They may also live elsewhere in the solar system! Without these bugs we would be unable to survive on earth and yet we know rather little about them. We don't even know how many different kinds there are. Perhaps your skin will crawl just a little when you realize how many passengers, both friendly and unfriendly, are riding around with us and lying in wait in the oceans and jungles.