Authored by Natalie Millán Aguinaga


Antarctica is the iciest, coldest, and most remote continent which we tend to associate with different species of penguins, whales and seals. But what about the tiny communities that we can’t see with our naked eyes?

In particular, I’m thinking about the bacterial communities that live in soil and sediments. Maybe you don’t see it, but every time you take a step, a microbial community gets disturbed, especially the fungi and bacterial community. In particular, the actinobacterial community that has filamentous growth and a branching pattern. These particular bacteria have been long studied for their unique chemical compounds that can be used to develop antibiotics and anticancer drugs. How amazing is to think that every step we take we are walking on real heroes that produce medicines that helps public health? These chemical compounds allow the bacterial communities to communicate and even though we can’t hear them, we know they exist.

The Homeward Bound leadership initiative represents a way to connect with nature, to inspire others to take care of this wonderful planet and to recognise all the components of an ecosystem: even the ones that you don’t see but play an important and essential role.

Sometimes people might judge others based on what they can see, for example a face and a body. But we are more than what people can see.

Just like the microbial community that nobody sees, you are filled with incredible potential to make this an amazing world. So, I invite you, next time you see a picture of a penguin, seal or bird, think about the microbial community they are walking on. Because even if they get disturbed, they will continue growing, just like us.

Photo Credit: Natalie Millán Aguinaga