Speaker Name(s): Gideon Wolfaardt, Ph.D. Description: Estimates of the number of bacterial species on earth vary greatly -- from a few million to a billion. Only a relatively small number of these bacteria have been characterized – typically those that cause disease or food spoilage, followed by those used in biotechnological applications. The “unsung heroes” are the diverse group of microorganisms that play crucial roles in ecosystem services: the provision of clean air, water, soil, and energy. The combination of modern-day microscopy and molecular tools enables an exciting journey into the micro and sub-micro world unseen by the naked eye, yet with tremendous impact on humans and their planet. Examples relevant to health care, industry and environmental processes will be discussed.