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© Françoise WATTEAU / Thierry MORVAN / OTELO-LSE / INRAE / CNRS Photothèque
This bacterial spore is found, together with many of its conspecifics, in wheat straw cells in cow manure. When stored dry, it no longer forms a life-friendly environment, and some bacteria resist by going dormant and becoming spores, while waiting for more favourable conditions. Then, once the manure is rehydrated, the bacteria start breaking down organic matter again, thus helping to increase the fertility of the soil on which it is spread. Understanding the dynamics of microorganisms in soil improvers like manure is vital, and although microorganisms may be nothing like as big as a Cyclops, they nonetheless play a giant role in ecosystems. This image was taken using transmission electron microscopy. It was awarded the Grand Jury Prize in the 2022 La preuve par l’image (LPPI) photography competition.