Microorganisms inhabit virtually every possible niche on Earth, including those at the outer envelope of survival.
However, the focus of most conservation authorities and ecologists is the ‘legs and leaves’ side of biology –
the ‘macrobiology’ that can be seen with the naked eye. There is little apparent concern for the preservation of
microbial diversity, or of unique microbial habitats. Here we show examples of the astounding microbial diversity
supported by South Africa’s ecosystems and argue that because microbes constitute the vast majority of our
planet’s species they should be considered seriously in the future protection of our genetic resources.