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Collective term (also microbes) for microscopically small, mostly unicellular organisms. These include algae, bacteria (e.g. lactic acid bacteria), many fungi (e.g. yeasts) and phytoplasmas (cell wall-free bacteria). It is controversial whether viruses are also included because they are not considered to be living organisms and therefore not microorganisms. Microorganisms are found in soil, water and air, even under extreme environmental conditions such as in hot water springs and in the Arctic at extremely low temperatures.

They mostly live on dead organic matter of plant and animal origin. By converting humus into various nutrients in plant-available form, they are of great importance for plant growth and metabolism in nature. However, numerous species also cause infectious diseases in humans, animals and plants. See a list of diseases and pests under vine enemies.

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