The world of microbes and viruses is extremely old and extremely diverse. With the help of the large research facilities at PSI, researchers can look deep into this alien cosmos and above all explore the proteins of exotic beings.
Since they emerged as the first life on our planet around 3.5 billion years ago, they have shaped the earth like no other form of life: microorganisms. In this motley group there are such diverse representatives as bacteria, archaebacteria, algae, yeasts, amoebas or parasites like the malaria pathogen. But as diverse as microorganisms may be, they also do not include one biological form of existence: viruses. Because these are a borderline case between the animate and the inanimate. They do not have their own metabolism and therefore always need a host in order to awaken to life and multiply. The vast majority of microorganisms and viruses are harmless or very useful for humans, for example for digestion or to produce food, to purify wastewater or to form humus.
Read more about the ongoing research at Synchrotron Lichtquelle Schweiz (SLS) and SwissFEL on the PSI website
Image: Researchers are studying how a sodium pump works on a marine bacterium. The knowledge could lead to new insights in neurobiology. (Graphic: Christoph Frei)