Microorganisms are tiny creatures that can often only be seen with a microscope or magnifying lens. But even though they’re incredibly small, they often cover huge areas in nearly every conceivable environment. They’re found living in soil, in water, in hot thermal vents on the ocean floor where no sunlight can reach, and even high up in the Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists around the world have spent their entire lives studying just one or a handful of these microorganisms, and now, thanks to their research, we’re beginning to understand just how significant their presence is. These are eight small creatures that have big impacts on the planet.
Wasps tend to get a a bad reputation as evil insects because of their aggressive nature and propensity to inject other animals with eggs that hatch and then devour the organism from the inside (the inspiration for the movie Alien). But what you might not know is that wasps actually eat a lot of grapes and other yeast-covered wild fruits. While in a wasp’s stomach, the yeast stays just as it is and doesn’t degrade or transform into something else, even throughout winter hibernation, until the wasp is ready to regurgitate it to provide food for its larvae.
It is widely believed that this wasp behavior played a vital role in the spread of wild yeasts throughout the world and is likely the primary reason why our ancestors discovered fermentation in the first place. So the next time you’re enjoying a cold beer on a hot day, or a glass of wine after work, remember to thank the wasps.