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How does life on earth depend on bacteria?

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There are many reasons bacteria play a critical role in maintaining life on Earth.

For one, bacteria are the primary decomposers upon the earth. They are required to keep the cycle of nutrients going. When something dies, bacteria (and fungi and yeast) decompose it and it's nutrients are then able to be used by another organism.

As another example, some bacteria provide a 'nitrogen fix'- they take nitrogen from the atmosphere and convert it to a chemical form that can be used by plants. This is called nitrogen fixing.

Bacteria exist in many animals in a symbiotic relationship, taking some of the food input and converting it to nutrients that the host's biochemical processes can process. This happens in humans, but perhaps the most famous example is the termite which has a protozoan in its gut which in turn has a bacteria that produces the enzyme needed to digest cellulose.

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