Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Plural form of actinomycete.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. branched gram-positive bacteria, often found in soil, some of which are pathogenic for humans and animals.

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  • "As it turns out, the smells people associate with rainstorms can be caused by a number of things. One of the more pleasant rain smells, the one we often notice in the woods, is actually caused by bacteria! Actinomycetes, a type of filamentous bacteria, grow in soil when conditions are damp and warm. When the soil dries out, the bacteria produces spores in the soil. The wetness and force of rainfall kick these tiny spores up into the air where the moisture after a rain acts as an aerosol (just like an aerosol air freshener). The moist air easily carries the spores to us so we breathe them in. These spores have a distinctive, earthy smell we often associate with rainfall."
    - What causes the smell after rain?, howstuffworks.com, cited 5 Oct 2009.

    October 5, 2009