They're the oldest form of life on Earth, in the right conditions they double in number every 15 minutes, they can thrive at temperatures over 113C and take over our gut, where they outnumber the cells in our body.
These past-masters of survival are the bacteria.
This series explores extraordinary bacteria that have shaped the world.Hermione Cockburn traces a discovery in GASTROENTEROLOGY that has revolutionised the way we treat peptic ulcer disease.
Only 20 years ago ulcers were thought to be lifestyle induced.
Stress, spicy food and too much stomach acid were blamed, and ulcer sufferers had to put up with a lifetime of pain and discomfort.
That was until a flamboyant young medic in Western AUSTRALIA called Barry Marshall drank a bug broth to prove his radical departure from medical dogma - namely that bacteria can, not only live in our stomachs, but also cause gastritis and peptic ulcer disease.