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Modified by Georgia Agriculture

Education Curriculum Office
June, 2002

• too small to be seen with the

naked eye
• aggregations or colonies can be
seen without the aid of a

• are found almost anywhere

• are more abundant than any
other life form
• they are forms on which all
others depend.
Recycle elements required for
• N - Nitrogen
• O - Oxygen
• P - Phosphorus
• S - Sulfur
• C - Carbon
Microbes produce

• food
• fuel
• air
4 major categories

• bacteria
• fungi
• protists
• viruses

• disease causing agents

• AIDS - Acquired Immune
Deficiency Syndrome
• Botulism - food poisoning
• Tuberculosis
• Polio
• Typhoid Fever

• Microbes cause disease by

directly damaging tissues and
weakening bodily functions or
by producing toxins that do.
Pathogenic microbes

• the proportion of pathogenic

microbes on earth is very small

• produce carbohydrates
• break down starch into sugar
• convert sugars into alcohol
Water Dwelling microbes

• algae and bacteria

• largest producers of carbon
containing compounds through
Some microbes

• are unable to take in Carbon

Dioxide from the air.
• They get Carbon from
bicarbonate in the water

• an atom that carries a positive

(+) or a negative (-) charge
• carries the charge because it has
gained or lost one or more
Microbes use CHO’s
• synthesized during photosynthesis (Ps)
to make cell structures and as an energy
• Provide food for larger organisms
• Replenish Oxygen supply
Single Celled Fungi

• Yeasts
• Producers in wine making, bread
baking or beer brewing.
• Convert sugar to alcohol in
fermentation process
Cheese Making

• bacteria convert lactose (milk

sugar) to lactic acid
Contribute to production

• of food and other substances by

their enzymes
• organic molecules that speed up
biochemical reactions without being
used up or becoming part of the end
• A catalyst - causes a reaction to take

• foods
• medicines
• vitamins
• leather processing
• textile production
Decomposers and Recyclers

• world’s greatest recyclers

• Keep elements like C and N cycling
through the environment
• Used to treat sewage, clean up toxic
wastes, processing materials

• more than one type of bacterium

is needed to convert atmospheric
N into a form useable by plants.
• Requires three different chemical
Production through
• Methane - decomposition of
organic matter
• Methanogens - swampy areas,
land fills, digestive tract of
Production through
• Linen fabric is made from flax
• Stems are immersed in water
• Bacterium digests pectin that
makes the stalks stiff
Linen Fabric Production

• remainder is washed dried and

spun into thread and then
woven into fabric
Basic features of MO’s
• 4 major groups
–bacteria, fungi, protists, viruses
• Viruses are not made up of cells and are
not considered organisms by many
Bacteria, fungi and protists

• have a cellular structure, a

membrane surrounding
• have an inner compartment nucleus
• DNA in non circular chromosomes
• unicellular or multicellular
• protozoans, algae, others resemble fungi
• have cellular structure
• non circular chromosomes
• in fungi with many cells, walls between
cells are sometimes not complete
• cytoplasm and nuclei can stream from
one cell to another within slender
filaments of cells called hyphae

• have cellular structure

• non circular chromosomes
• in fungi with many cells, walls
between cells are sometimes not
• cytoplasm and nuclei can
stream from one cell to another
within slender filaments of cells
called hyphae

• unicellular

• have many cells


• visible to the naked eye


• not cellular
• particles made up of nucleic
acid and protein
• Include short length of DNA or
RNA - never both!

• On their own they cannot

reproduce at all
• Inject their nucleic acid into a
host cell

• Injected DNA or RNA tricks

host cell into using the viruses
chemical instructions to make
substances needed for the virus
to reproduce

• Host cell is damaged when

newly reproduced virus
particles break out of cell (lyse)
What does it take to keep a
microbe alive?
• Lots of variation in
environmental and nutritional
condition requirements
Nutritional needs

• energy sources
• basic elements to make and
replace cell structures

• organic compounds to meet

energy needs
• Carbon source to make own
organic molecules
• get energy from sugars, starches,
fats and other organic compounds

• live in soil, get nutrients from

dead organic matter
• Clostridium botulinum -
botulism, food poisoning

• build their own organic

compounds if they have an
available source of inorganic

• generate their own food using

sunlight and inorganics such as
carbon dioxide

• don’t require sun

• get energy from carbon dioxide,
salts, water and others
Nitrosomonas bacteria

• live in soil
• use ammonia (NH4) as energy
hetero, chemo and phototrophs
• use energy from the environment
• light and heat energy from the sun
• energy stored in chemical bonds or
organic or inorganic compounds
Six major elements in cells
• C - Carbon
• H - Hydrogen
• N - Nitrogen
• O - Oxygen
• P - Phosphorus
• S - Sulfur
Also -

• K- potassium
• Ca - Calcium
• Fe - Iron
• Na - Sodium
Trace elements
• Co - Cobalt
• Zn - Zinc
• Mo - Molybdenum
• Cu - Copper
• Mn - Manganese
• Si - Silicon
hetero, chemo, and phototrophs

• some require organic compounds

that they cannot make themselves
• must be added to culture in
isolation - called growth factors
• Vitamins
Microbial nutrition in the lab

• hardened gel - called agar

• nutrients are added to the agar
• called growth medium
Pure Cultures

• Grow only one kind of microbe

• Must use aseptic technique to
avoid contaminating the culture
Mixed cultures
• may be grown on selective media
• nutritious to some and not to others
• allows researchers to isolate a certain
species of microbe
Environmental conditions for
microbial growth
• Oxygen - require Oxygen -
• some microbes live in Oxygen
poor environment - anaerobic
Anaerobic processes
• fermentation
• O2 atoms in compounds are
rearranged and made available
to microbes
• made up of molecules
containing O2 but don’t
produce free or gaseous O2
• free oxygen may be toxic
• favorable range - 6-8
• acidophillic - acid loving used in
mining operations.
• Oxidize Cu, Fe and other metal
sulfides in the process of pulling
out the ore
• 37 degrees C (98 degrees F)
• some can survive a wide range
of temps ranging from 32
degrees F to 212 degrees F
• dissolve minerals, ions, gases
and organic compounds
• in extremely dry conditions
microbes form spores that hold
the genetic information and
some cytoplasm.
• when moisture is added the
spore breaks down and bacteria
resume their normal activity
Salt concentrations
• most microbes can’t survive in
high salt or sugar
Microbe sex
• or - how microbes reproduce
• process is known as binary
Binary fission
• increase in size, extend cell wall
material down center and divide
in two.
Speed of reproduction
• in 24 hours some species of
bacteria can go from one cell to
16,777,216 cells
Single celled protists
• have a more difficult
reproductive process
• DNA in nucleus is fist
replicated then divided into 2
identical sets (mitosis)
• cytoplasm of cell then divides
to form 2 identical daughter
• reproduce by a number of methods
• yeasts - budding - cytoplasm pinches off
on one side of cell to form a new cell
• or fuses with another cell
• after fusing with a cell, nuclei
fuse and divide to form spores
when released from the cell
• spores become cells on their
Many celled fungi
• hyphae or filaments fuse to form
• cases in which nuclei from 2
parent molds excahange pieces of
• a type of sexual reproduction
Microbial populations
• can and do change over time
• bacterial populations adapt to
changes in the environment
• change in DNA
• alteration of base sequence
• occur spontaneously
Genetic recombination
• exchanging or recombining
genetic information
• two bacterial cells become
connected by a thin strand of
cell material called a pilus
Genetic recombination
• DNA can travel from one
microbe to another
• gene enters a microbe that did
not initially have it