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A block of Tomme de Savoie cheese ages with a sweater of Mucor lanceolatus fungal mold. Mucor itself doesn't have a strong taste, but more flavorful bacteria can travel far and wide along its hyphae — the microscopic, branched tendrils that fungi use to bring in nutrients. Benjamin Wolfe/Benjamin Wolfe hide caption

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Benjamin Wolfe/Benjamin Wolfe

Microorganisms play a vital role in growing food and sustaining the planet, but they do it anonymously. Scientists haven't identified most soil microbes, but they are learning which are most common. PeopleImages/Getty Images hide caption

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PeopleImages/Getty Images

Scientists Peek Inside The 'Black Box' Of Soil Microbes To Learn Their Secrets

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Tubes of hematite, an iron-rich mineral, might be evidence of microbial life that lived around underwater vents billions of years ago. Matthew Dodd/University College London hide caption

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Matthew Dodd/University College London

Tiny Fossils Could Be Oldest Evidence Of Life On Earth

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Maia Stern, Adam Cole/NPR

Watch Earth's History Play Out On A Football Field

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Pam Marrone (right), founder and CEO of Marrone Bio Innovations, inspects some colonies of microbes. Marrone has spent most of her professional life prospecting for microbial pesticides and bringing them to market. Dan Charles/NPR hide caption

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Dan Charles/NPR

Mighty Farming Microbes: Companies Harness Bacteria To Give Crops A Boost

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Plankton collected in the Pacific Ocean with a 0.1mm mesh net. Seen here is a mix of multicellular organisms — small zooplanktonic animals, larvae and single protists (diatoms, dinoflagellates, radiolarians) — the nearly invisible universe at the bottom of the marine food chain. Christian Sardet/CNRS/Tara Expeditions hide caption

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Christian Sardet/CNRS/Tara Expeditions

Revealed: The Ocean's Tiniest Life At The Bottom Of The Food Chain

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Mattheos Koffas (left), a biochemical engineer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Andrew Jones, a graduate student in his lab, with a flask of microbe-produced antioxidants. Dan Charles/NPR hide caption

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Dan Charles/NPR

Who Made That Flavor? Maybe A Genetically Altered Microbe

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Many artisan cheese producers never pasteurize their milk – it's raw. The milk's natural microbial community is still in there. This microbial festival gives cheese variety and intrigues scientists. iStockphoto hide caption

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The Ancient Art Of Cheese-Making Attracts Scientific Gawkers

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The Bronx may be up and the Battery down, but Central Park is where an amazing wealth of different sorts of microbes play. iStockphoto hide caption

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Soil Doctors Hit Pay Dirt In Manhattan's Central Park

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