Intro121_OLS - Introduction to Microbiology...

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Introduction to Microbiology Microorganisms/Microbes: Living things too small to be seen with the unaided eye (need a microscope) Microbes have a bad reputation among the general public… Are all microbes germs? Positive roles of microbes: 1. Decomposition (Nutrient recycling): Naturally occurring microbes break down dead plants and animals yielding nutrient molecules used by living organisms 2. Bioremediation: Intentional use of microbes to break down (detoxify) human waste, toxic wastes and pollutants Can use bacteria already present in the environment or add a species known to metabolize the contaminant Usually need to add other nutrients required for microbial growth to the contaminated area 3. Normal microbiota: Microbes that live in/on the body and compete with harmful microbes; protect us from harmful microbes 4. Nitrogen fixation Essential to agriculture Microbes remove nitrogen gas from the air and transform it into nitrogen-containing compounds that can be used by plants—this “fixed” nitrogen is used by plants to build proteins that can later be consumed by animals and humans 5. Photosynthesis Microscopic algae carryout more than half the photosynthesis on Earth, using carbon dioxide and
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Intro121_OLS - Introduction to Microbiology...

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