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MikrobAlpina – the microbe zoo

A Zoo with the smallest creatures. Take a look inside!

The first


in the Alps

We show selected microorganisms, from bacteria to fungi, including yeasts, primitive bacteria (archaea) and protozoa. We show how they grow and thrive, how they glow and creep and how they benefit plants, animals and humans. It’s amazing what moves around and in us, made visible in the Science Centre MikrobAlpina.

Still fiction, but maybe reality soon?

What are microbes?

Microbes (commonly known as bacteria) include bacteria and archaea (in the past these were called primitive bacteria). The broader concept of microorganisms includes fungi (including unicellular yeasts), microscopic algae and protozoans (e.g. paramecium). These are mainly microscopically small (micro = Greek small) creatures, very often unicellular organisms and not visible to the naked eye.

In the sensitive interaction of the organisms that populate our planet, microorganisms have a key functions. Furthermore they play an important role in the alpine area: they are very cold- and UV-resistant, colonize caves, ice and snow and color glaciers red.

They are also known as symbionts of alpine animals, which could not digest their fibre-rich food without microorganisms.

Major Tyrolean companies from the pharmaceutical and food sectors use them as the basis of their business models.

Last but not least, humans harbour more microorganisms (approx. 1.3*1013) than they have body cells (approx. 1.0*1013).

microbes are transmitted by one kiss.


microbes are harboured by humans


microbes live on earth

microbes are

very useful!

Say cheese! – Production of food

Ciliates search game

Algae show and phototrophic bacteria

Credit Verein klasse!forschung

Experimental research of microorganisms

How to grow bacteria and microbes

Neocallimastix ein Pilz aus dem Darm des Steinbocks, Copyright S. Leis

In order that the ptarmigan and the chamois don’t starve.

Very clever – Slime moulds can find their way through a labyrinth.

With a simple kiss you give someone a lot of bacteria.

How toilet water becomes clean water.

Living creatures in the glacier.

Why glaciers become red

Watch microbes grow

“Life”-Simulation of growth processes

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Which microbes live on the farm?



Mud, eggs and paper – the Winogradsky-column

Lichens show us if the air is clean.

The small monstrous ciliates

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We light up bacteria!

Fungi help ants at nest-building.

Fungi promote plant growth

Laricifomes officinalis, ein holzabbauender Pilz, der schon bei den alten Griechen als Heilmittel, beispielsweise gegen Tuberkulose, genutzt wurde. Copyright U. Peintner

Fungi as medicine

How microbes defend themselves against medication.



microbial zoo

in the world

Microorganisms are not only fascinating in their functions for medicine, humans, food production, etc., but they are also nice to look at – they glow or change their color. All this should be taught at MikrobAlpina to children & parents, pupils & teachers as well as college students.

MikrobAlpina is a project of scientists from the University of Innsbruck, the Medical University of Innsbruck and the Management Centre of Innsbruck.