microbial ecology

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Microbial ecology

The study of interrelationships between microorganisms and their living and nonliving environments. Microbial populations are able to tolerate and to grow under varying environmental conditions, including habitats with extreme environmental conditions such as hot springs and salt lakes. Understanding the environmental factors controlling microbial growth and survival offers insight into the distribution of microorganisms in nature, and many studies in microbial ecology are concerned with examining the adaptive features that permit particular microbial species to function in particular habitats.

Within habitats some microorganisms are autochthonous (indigenous), filling the functional niches of the ecosystem, and others are allochthonous (foreign), surviving in the habitat for a period of time but not filling the ecological niches. Because of their diversity and wide distribution, microorganisms are extremely important in ecological processes. The dynamic interactions between microbial populations and their surroundings and the metabolic activities of microorganisms are essential for supporting productivity and maintaining environmental quality of ecosystems. Microorganisms are crucial for the environmental degradation of liquid and solid wastes and various pollutants and for maintaining the ecological balance of ecosystems—essential for preventing environmental problems such as acid mine drainage and eutrophication. See Ecosystem

The various interactions among microbial populations and between microbes, plants, and animals provide stability within the biological community of a given habitat and ensure conservation of the available resources and ecological balance. Interactions between microbial populations can have positive or negative effects, either enhancing the ability of populations to survive or limiting population densities. Sometimes they result in the elimination of a population from a habitat.

The transfer of carbon and energy stored in organic compounds between the organisms in the community forms an integrated feeding structure called a food web. Microbial decomposition of dead plants and animals and partially digested organic matter in the decay portion of a food web is largely responsible for the conversion of organic matter to carbon dioxide. See Biomass, Food web

Only a few bacterial species are capable of biological nitrogen fixation. In terrestrial habitats, the microbial fixation of atmospheric nitrogen is carried out by free-living bacteria, such as Azotobacter, and by bacteria living in symbiotic association with plants, such as Rhizobium or Bradyrhizobium living in mutualistic association within nodules on the roots of leguminous plants. In aquatic habitats, cyanobacteria, such as Anabaena and Nostoc, fix atmospheric nitrogen. The incorporation of the bacterial genes controlling nitrogen fixation into agricultural crops through genetic engineering may help improve yields. Microorganisms also carry out other processes essential for the biogeochemical cycling of nitrogen. See Nitrogen cycle

The biodegradation (microbial decomposition) of waste is a practical application of microbial metabolism for solving ecological problems. Solid wastes are decomposed by microorganisms in landfills and by composting. Liquid waste (sewage) treatment uses microbes to degrade organic matter, thereby reducing the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). See Escherichia

microbial ecology

[mī‚krōb·ē·əl ē′käl·ə·jē]
The study of interrelationships between microorganisms and their living and nonliving environments.
References in periodicals archive ?
Other topics include the microbial ecology of traditional beer fermentations, fungal contamination in barley and malt, and detection of beer spoilage lactic acid bacteria, Gram-negative bacteria, and spoilage yeasts.
Sequence analysis by combining the quantitative data into microbial ecology (QIIME), Mothur software v.
I can take this knowledge with me everywhere whether when I get a job in the environmental field or when I pursue a masters in a field related to microbial ecology or bioinformatics," she says.
This shows that obesity affects the gut microbial ecology of the 2 major phyla.
Aside from the immediate threat of ingestion by marine animals, little research has been done regarding how polyethylene plastic affects ocean microbial ecology.
Beyond the reaches of sunlight and seemingly devoid of life, the caves are, in fact, teeming with an unexpected diversity of microorganisms that rival microbial communities on the Earth's surface, according to a study published in the Journal of the International Society for Microbial Ecology.
The low emissions are thanks to the distinct mix of microbes in the kangaroo gut, according to a study that appears March 13 in the ISME Journal, a microbial ecology journal.
Among specific topics are microbial ecology in extreme acidic pit lakes of the Aberian Pyrite Belt in southwestern Spain, galactose as an inducer of the production of extracellular polymeric substances by Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans, evidence for widespread dissimilatory hydrogen metabolism among acidophilic bacteria, immobilizing new isolated iron oxidizing bacteria on natural carriers, and the influence of pyrite on the galvanic assisted leaching of chalcocite concentrates.
Now a new generation of scientists is examining issues including stream reconstruction, invasive species, microbial ecology and carbon sequestration, among others.
Considering the close correlation between rumen microbial ecology and its enzymatic functions according to the other ruminal livestock (Krause et al.
The lab aims to develop a better understanding of microbial ecology.
The detailed mechanics of the quorum-sensing system described by Hill and colleagues "are of immense interest to researchers in far-reaching fields, including biotechnology, medicine, microbial ecology, microbial communication, and biofilm formation," says Alison Buchan, an associate professor of microbiology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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