Micro-organisms, also known as microbes, play a vital role in our everyday lives; in fact they are so important that life as we know it would be impossible without them. Microscopic organisms are essential to maintaining life on earth, fixing gases, and breaking down dead plant and animal matter into simpler substances that are used at the bottom of the food chain. Over the centuries, humans have developed methods by which to exploit these microbes to benefit our species, for example, in the production of medicine and food.
Despite the benefits of some microbes, many are actually extremely harmful and need to be controlled in order to reduce disease, protect resources and prevent the destruction of our environment. If left untreated, certain microbes have the capability to attack our immune system and in turn, make us ill. Microbes are well-known to cause infectious diseases such as influenza and measles. However, microbes have been found to affect the human body through an even broader range of illnesses, as there is strong evidence showing that they may also contribute to some forms of cancer and coronary heart disease.1