South African Journal of Science
On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
COWAN, Don A. et al. Biodiversity: So much more than legs and leaves. S. Afr. j. sci. [online]. 2013, vol.109, n.11-12, pp. 1-9. ISSN 1996-7489.
Microorganisms inhabit virtually every possible niche on Earth, including those at the outer envelope of survival. However, the focus of most conservation authorities and ecologists is the 'legs and leaves' side of biology -the 'macrobiology' that can be seen with the naked eye. There is little apparent concern for the preservation of microbial diversity, or of unique microbial habitats. Here we show examples of the astounding microbial diversity supported by South Africa's ecosystems and argue that because microbes constitute the vast majority of our planet's species they should be considered seriously in the future protection of our genetic resources.
Keywords : bacteria; endemism; fungi; genetic resources; viruses.