Microbes: Transformers of Matter and Material

1.  Take home message:

"Microbes can do anything they want, wherever they want.  Without microbes, humans wouldn’t be alive."

2.  Main Terms:

Assimilative processes

Dissimilative processes

Autotrophs: photoautotroph and chemoautotroph

Heterotrophs: photoheterotroph and heterotroph

Eubacteria, Archaebacteria, Cyanobacteria (= blue-green algae)


Decomposition or Mineralization

3.  Main Concepts:

·        Which organisms are included in the definition of microbes?

·        How does the divergence of genetic material of the eubacteria and archaebacteria compare to the genetic similarity of plants and animals?

·        What are the main biological characteristics of bacteria and fungi (consider their “diversity” of form and function).

·        How do bacteria "make a living"; what are the processes they use to gain energy for growth?

·        What are “reduction-oxidation” reactions; give some examples of redox reactions and how they are used by organisms (see table of 4 examples of reactions).

·        Understand and be able to describe the important impacts of microbes on ecosystems:

1.      Generate oxygen

2.      Nutrient recycling

3.      Nitrogen fixation

4.      Allowing herbivores to consume poor quality food

            5.   Aiding plant roots in access to soil nutrients

Figures from Dusenbury:

Dusenbery, D. B. 1996. Life at Small Scale - the Behavior of Microbes.  Scientific American Library, W. H. Freeman and Company, New York. 214 pp.