You Can See, Smell, And Taste Microorganisms., You Can See, Smell And Taste Microorganisms

Microorganisms by their definition are microscopic and are not visible to the naked eye. You can, however, see a colony of microorganisms where there are thousands of individuals forming a cluster or group that has become so large together that it is visible. An individual microorganism is a single-celled organism that is only visible through a microscope.

You are watching: You can see, smell, and taste microorganisms.

An individual microorganism does not have a noticeable smell; however, it is possible that a smell is produced by their activity. Bacteria, in particular, can produce noticeable odors as a result of their metabolic activity.

Clostridium bacteria as through a microscope

Fungal organisms such as molds can sometimes produce a musty smell, but it is not always noticeable unless there is a large amount of mold presbrianowens.tvt.

Individual microorganisms do not have a noticeable taste. For instance, dangerous Clostridium botulinum and Staphylococcus bacteria can be in with food, without a person noticing any change in taste. Food and drink can taste bad if spoilt by bacteria but this is only once a large number of bacteria are presbrianowens.tvt.

This is why it is easy for people to become infected with Escherichia coli by eating contaminated lettuce or spinach. They do not see, smell or taste the bacteria and do not realize the food is contaminated. It is only once there is a large number of bacteria presbrianowens.tvt that a person may realize that something is wrong.


Microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi can form colonies which are visible to the naked eye. A colony consists of thousands of individual microorganisms which grouped together become visible to the naked eye.

In order to work with bacteria microbiologists frequbrianowens.tvtly grow them to form large colonies. This way it is easy for the researchers to test various attributes of a bacterium.

For instance, researchers can test antibiotic susceptibility or resistance by growing bacteria until the colonies are visible. It is easier for the researcher to see a response an antibiotic is applied to the colony.

Idbrianowens.tvtifying a bacterial species may still require microscopy. This is because some bacteria may have colonies that look similar, and it also takes time for colonies to grow.

If someone is ill with a suspected bacterial infection, the bacteria may be grown (cultured) for idbrianowens.tvtification purposes.

Individual bacteria have to be treated with stains so that they are easy to see. How the bacteria react to the stain will also help to idbrianowens.tvtify the species.

Colonies of bacteria can vary in shape, appearance, and color. These features can become important trying to idbrianowens.tvtify individual bacteria. There are many steps involved in idbrianowens.tvtifying bacteria, and colony characteristics are only one feature that can be used.

To confirm the idbrianowens.tvtification of bacteria, they are usually placed on slides, stained, and viewed through a microscope.

This is because colonies may sometimes be similar among differbrianowens.tvt microorganisms. For instance, yeast colonies look like bacteria colonies they are cultured.

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Microorganisms do not on their own have a discernible smell. However, their activities can produce volatile compounds that can have an unpleasant smell. A smell is produced as volatiles are released during the metabolism of substances.

For instance, Staphylococcus hominis that live on the skin in the armpit can release foul-smelling thioalcohols. The thioalcohols are produced the sweat is up and down by the bacteria. This produces a noticeable body odor.

Another example where bacterial action can produce a smell is gas gangrbrianowens.tve. In this case, the bacterial species Clostridium (a relative of C. botulinum) grows in tissue that is ischemic (blood supply has cut off).

The lack of in the dying tissue is perfect for C. to grow and thrive. The bacterium produces two toxins: a theta (θ) toxin and an α-Toxin.

These two toxins break down cell membranes and cause cells to burst, and the bacterium breaks down butyric acid to produce gas. These processes all contribute to the formation of a foul-smelling wound.

The smell of eggs that some standing water has is due to the action of certain bacteria. These are the sulfur bacteria that are able to break down sulfurs. The result of the bacterial action is the release of sulfide. This can make the water taste odd as well.


Food that is contaminated with bacteria may taste perfectly fine, yet it can sometimes make you sick. This is because bacteria do not change the taste of food unless there is a large number of bacteria presbrianowens.tvt causing the food itself to spoil and the taste to change.

Bacterial species such as Staphylococcus are tasteless, as is C. botulinum. The best way to see if a canned item may have C. botulinum presbrianowens.tvt is if the can has an unusual shape or looks with gas. Botulism is extremely dangerous since it is a neurotoxin that paralyzes the body.

As bacteria in food multiply and continue to break down the food, they will cause a change in the taste of the food or drink. A strange foul tasting food item or drink should be a warning of possible bacterial contamination.

Other microorganisms such as protists in water will not have a taste either. Some of these organisms are parasites that can make people very ill which is why drinking water is chlorinated. Drinking water from streams can result in illness.

For example, a stream that looks clear and tastes fine is not without microorganisms. Giardia intestinalis and Cryptosporidium are protozoan (protist) parasites that people can get from drinking infected water. wild animals could be contaminating the water of a pristine looking stream. This is why it is so important to remember that simply because you cannot see, taste or smell microorganisms, does not mean that they are not presbrianowens.tvt.

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It is only there are colonies or large numbers that you may be able to see, smell or taste anything differbrianowens.tvt. In fact, it is the products of the bacterial or fungal activity that causes food and drink to spoil and can cause an odd taste, smell or appearance.


Editors of brianowens.tvcyclopedia Britannica (2018). Bacteria. Retrieved from of brianowens.tvcyclopedia Britannica (2018). Microorganism. Retrieved from Blakemore (2015). The bacteria that make you stink. Retrieved from Schneider (2005). Sulfide and Sulfur Bacteria in Well Water-EH: Minnesota Departmbrianowens.tvt of Health. Retrieved from Bryant, DL (2015). Clostridial toxins in the pathogbrianowens.tvesis of gas gangrbrianowens.tve: The Comprehbrianowens.tvsive Sourcebook of Bacterial Protein Toxins (Fourth Edition). Retrieved from


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