The Perfume Of The Earth

One of my favorite scientifically-oriented blogs is Small Things Considered. Veteran microbiologist Moselio Schaecter and fellow-writer Merry Youle are the hosts of the blog. Some of the material is overly technical for me, but many of the posts are fascinating glimpses into the microbial world.

The blog also features posts by other microbiologists. This one by Mark Martin I found to be of particular interest. Did you ever wonder what generates that distinctive odor which arises from the earth after rain has fallen upon dry soil? It’s a pleasant and earthy odor, and it turns out that a bacterially-generated chemical called geosmin is the major component of that smell. A quote from the post:

Certain cyanobacteria and actinomycetes synthesize geosmin, a volatile chemical that is reminiscent of potting soil. (Norman Pace has been known to wax lyrical here, calling geosmin “the breath of the microbial world.”)

Read the post linked below and you will learn the source of that distinctive “ocean smell”:

A Microbe By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet…

In general, Small Things Considered is exemplary, a science-oriented blog which can be comprehended by a reasonably well-educated reader. The writers make an effort to connect microbiological research to the world that the layman perceives. Keep up the good work, Elio and Merry!


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