Microbial Ecology

Vocabulary

ammonification

mineralization of organic nitrogen into ammonium

aquifer

rock layer permeable to water that acts as a reservoir

biogeochemical cycling

flux of energy and chemical elements through living (biotic) and nonliving (abiotic) components of the biosphere

bioremediation

use of microorganisms to remove or detoxify pollutants

biosphere

the collection of all living things and their ecosystems on Earth

community

all organisms living in a given area

consumer

organism that consumes other organisms for food

decomposer

organism that breaks down dead materials and organic wastes and uses them for food

denitrification

bacterial use of nitrate as an electron acceptor in cellular respiration, converting it eventually into nitrogen (N2) gas

ecological epidemiology

study of the relationships among pathogens, their hosts, and environmental factors that can influence the spread of the pathogens

eutrophication

unrestrained growth of plants, algae, or cyanobacteria, resulting from increased availability of nutrients required by photosynthesis

food chain

relationship among different organisms based on which organism eats or is eaten by another organism

food web

combination of food chains interacting with each other within an ecosystem

habitat

physical area where an organism lives

hydrologic cycle

movement of water to and from the atmosphere, surface, and subsurface of Earth

metagenomics

techniques or technologies allowing direct sequencing of microbial DNA from entire microbial communities within specific environmental samples and the analysis of resulting data

methanogen

archaeon that uses carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas for energy during anaerobic respiration

microbial ecology

study of microorganisms and their interactions with one another, with other organisms, and with their environments

mineralization

conversion of organic compounds into inorganic nutrients in the soil by bacteria or fungi

nitrification

conversion of ammonium to the intermediate product nitrite (NO2-) and the final product nitrate (NO3-)

phytoplankton

microscopic, photosynthetic, water-dwelling organisms that drift with currents

plastisphere

an ecosystem that forms in or on human plastic pollution

population

interbreeding group of individuals of the same species

rhizosphere

soil ecosystem adjacent to plant roots that is affected by the roots, their secretions, and the microorganisms that are present

root nodule

specialized bulbous, tumor-like growth on a root that contains nitrogen-fixing bacteria