We Can Thank Bacteria For The Smell of Rain


Yesterday my oldest daughter asked why it smelled so wonderful after it rained.  I had to admit that I wasn’t sure, but that we’d find out.  A quick internet search revealed that there are actually many “rain smells” and they do not all have the same cause.  A bit more cyber-reserach seemed to point to bacteria as the source of the smell my daughter enjoyed so much.

We’re big fans of bacteria around our house– anyone who likes bread, beer, and cheese relies pretty heavily on the stuff– but I was surprised to credit bacteria with our favorite rain smell.  According to the folks at howstuffworks.com, the particular rain smell that we associate with rain (and with being in the woods) is the smell of a bacteria called Actinomycetes releasing it’s spores into the moist air.  Check out this link for more information on Actinomycetes and rain smells in general. It’s fascinating stuff.

So it turns out that we have one more thing to add to the list of the many wonderful things that bacteria do for us human beings.


You may also like