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Bacteria contain substances that cure diseases. For example, probiotic bacteria help against inflammation of the intestine, and probiotic medicines open up prospects for allergies, neurodermatitis, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Bacteria are considered pathogens and even serve as a weapon for biological warfare: plagues such as salmonella, the plague and anthrax, tuberculosis, botulism or snot put the microorganisms in a deadly light.
Most bacteria, however, are harmless and many are vital. Bacteria lie on our skin as a living protective shield, digest our food in the intestine and decompose our waste.
We produce sourdough with bacteria as well as sauerkraut, yoghurt, cheese, wine and vinegar, hormones and enzymes.
Bacteria enable plant life. A compost heap is a bacteria factory. The microorganisms decompose dead material into humus soil, which gives the plants access to nutrients.
Bacteria also clean waste water.
Remedies on the doorstep
New York scientists have now found out that medically valuable bacteria roam Central Park. The researchers discovered bacterial genes for eleven medicinal agents in the parks of New York City. These include antibiotics, fungicides and anti-cancer agents.
Just the beginning
The New York researchers' samples are just the beginning. They are almost certain to show that quantities of beneficial bacteria are waiting to be discovered - in parks, gardens, compost heaps and urban wasteland.
Soil bacteria in medicines
Soil bacteria have been used in medicine for a long time: drugs against malaria or parasites, antibiotics such as fungicides originally come from bacteria in the ground.
Scientists are optimistic
The New York researchers are hoping for a lot. The head of Charlop-Powers says: "Our analyzes show the existence of an enormous biosynthetic diversity in the urban park floors."
Grow bacteria in the garden?
Can urban gardening perhaps help to multiply such helpful bacteria in the gardens of the big cities? Are allotment gardens becoming a medical laboratory? The practice of medicinal gardens: application and meaning stand before a paradigm shift.
Such bacteria are not pathogens, they fight diseases, and they are most likely to be found in front of the house - in the compost heap (Dr. Utz Anhalt)