Dirt smells good
May 8, 2020 10:01 AM Subscribe
Dirt Doesn't Smell like Dirt: It smells like bacteria. But why? (Scientific American)
"The natural history of these bacteria contains a clue. Streptomyces, amazingly for bacteria, behave like fungi. Fungi grow as a mass of branched filaments called mycelium that often sprouts individual reproductive cells called spores. In spite of the bacterial reputation for making tiny individual cells, Streptomyces does this too. It's a case of convergent evolution, just as bats resemble birds and whales resemble fish.
Streptomyces's mycelia can sometimes reach a few centimeters in size and often sprout chains or whorls of spores in a variety of interesting and sometimes complex configurations. But because they live immersed in dirt, dispersing those spores is difficult. Wind and water are unpredictable and unlikely to get you very far. The remaining options comprise miscellaneous creepy crawlies.
So the scientists put two and two together: is geosmin the bacterial equivalent of the smell of ripe fruit?"
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