The term germ has different meanings according to context. At a general level, it can be said that a germ is that which favors the origin or beginning of something.
In the case of plants, the germ is called part of the seed that allows the development of a new specimen. The notion can also refer to first of the stems that arise after the germination of the plant.
The germ of a plant individual is usually considered to be the embryo which is formed after fertilization, arising in turn from the development of the zygote. This germ goes through a complex process as it develops, culminating in the appearance of the new plant.
A germ is also called a pathogenic microorganism. Microorganisms are microbes: single-celled organisms that can only be visualized using a microscope. The adjective pathogenic, on the other hand, qualifies what can originate and trigger a disease (an alteration of the Health).
A germ, in this framework, is a agent capable of harming a plant or animal organism (including the human being). The living being that houses the germ is called a host. Once the germ is installed in the host, if it finds the conditions it needs to develop, it will end up producing a disease.
Since germs are microscopic, protecting ourselves from them is not easy, because we do not know if they are in our environment. It is important to note that this name is used to designate the following four types of organisms: bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa.
The unicellular organisms called bacteria they are found naturally in our body; in fact, up to a certain number are beneficial for us, since they collaborate with the proper functioning of the digestive system and block the entry of others, which can harm us. Certain bacteria are used in the pharmaceutical industry to create vaccines and drugs. Two possible attacks of this type of germ are strep throat and urinary tract infection.
Taking into account their size, the bacteria are larger than the virus. The latter do not have the ability to live in isolation, but depend on another organism for all their functions, such as their development and reproduction. Almost all viruses can survive for a short time by themselves, that is, without being inside a carrier. Some, such as hepatitis, endure several days outside of other living cells, and that is why they are so dangerous.
The reason these germs worry us so much is that they don’t take long to reproduce once they enter our bodies. Although their action is not always very serious, since they cause diseases such as colds, there are also viruses that cause smallpox.
With respect to mushrooms, they are multicellular organisms similar to plants. They generally do not pose a danger to a person in good health. Unlike viruses, they make their own food. Among the most normal and mild infections that can cause humans are ringworm and athlete’s foot; if there is a problem that affects the immune system, such as cancer or AIDS, fungi can attack us much more severely.
The protozoa They thrive in moisture, which is why some of the diseases they cause in humans, such as intestinal infections, are spread through water.
In a broader and even symbolic sense, germ is the beginning of something, be it moral (abstract) or material. By example: “Analysts consider that the germ of fundamentalist terrorism is in this Arab city”, “The arrival of the Uruguayan striker was the germ of the team’s success”, “The anti-popular measures of the government constituted the germ of the revolutionary movement”.