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]
(ecology)
The study of interrelationships between microorganisms and their living and nonliving environments.
References in periodicals archive ?
Jos Raaijmakers is professor of Microbial Interactions and Diversity in Leiden and head of Microbial Ecology at NIOO-KNAW.
Contract notice: coordination of the research program "microbial ecology"
Microbial Ecology: Current Advances from Genomics, Metagenomics and Other Omics
Joanna Wang, from the Taiwanese company Phytopia, an essential oils provider, discussed how essential oils may be used as a therapeutic treatment, and be tailored to improve microbial ecology of the body to improve an individual's health.
coagulans MTCC 5856 in patients experiencing major depression symptoms with IBS and supports the hypothesis that the modification of microbial ecology in the human gut by supplementing with probiotics may be an alternative strategy to ameliorate or prevent depression.
Microbial ecology of dental plaque and its significance in health and disease.
The four topics are: 1) Plant Biology (physiology and adaptation of plants), 2) Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (isolation of protein, 3) Animal Biology (observation on leech and mite anatomy), and 4) Microbial Ecology and Evolution.
Oremland RS, Capone DG (1988) Use of specific inhibitors in biogeochemistry and microbial ecology. Advances in Microbial Ecology 10, 285-383.
The study by Suttle and his colleagues, published this year in the International Society of Microbial Ecology Journal, was the first to count the number of viruses falling to earth.
29 in the International Society for Microbial Ecology Journal.
There are some selections that those with less knowledge of molecular biology or microbial ecology will not understand and thus not benefit from reading.

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