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.
Hermione Cockburn discovers how bacteria exist four kilometres beneath the ice sheet in ANTARCTICA. Lake Vostok is the most isolated aquatic environment on Earth. Now scientists are planning to explore this cold, dark, pristine wilderness for the first time.
Bacteria are ancient life forms capable of surviving at extreme temperatures and in places where, until recently, no life was thought to exist.
In November 2002, while on a business trip to NEW YORK, John Tull and Lucinda Marker became ill.
They were rushed to Accident and Emergency in Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan.
There they were diagnosed with BUBONIC PLAGUE.
She discovers that MICROBEs continue working long after humans have departed.
She recalls the virus which caused NEONATAL TETANUS on the Scottish island of St Kilda.