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Microbial Ecology

Ecology is the scientific discipline focused on the study of ecological systems and the living and non-living processes that support them.


Microbial ecology is a sub-discipline of ecology focused on microorganisms (that is, such microbes as bacteria, viruses, some algae and protozoa, and prions), their life cycles, niches and habitats. Due to the substantial numbers of microorganisms on Earth, these small organisms exercise mind-boggling influences, effects and impacts on other organisms (including humankind) and on the ecological systems they inhabit


Microbial ecology is central to our understanding of human, plant and animal disease and well-being as well as the condition and functioning of all ecological systems.

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Recently Updated
Water pollution Last Updated on 2013-09-12 18:10:41 Water pollution is the contamination of natural water bodies by chemical, physical, radioactive or pathogenic microbial substances. Adverse alteration of water quality presently produces large scale illness and deaths, accounting for approximately 50 million deaths per year worldwide, most of these deaths occurring in Africa and Asia. In China, for example, about 75 percent of the population (or 1.1 billion people) are without access to unpolluted drinking water, according to China's own standards.[1] Widespread consequences of water pollution upon ecosystems include species mortality, biodiversity reduction and loss of ecosystem services. Some consider that water pollution may occur from natural causes such as sedimentation from severe rainfall events; however, natural causes, including volcanic eruptions and algae blooms from natural causes constitute a minute amount of the... More »
Bacteria Last Updated on 2013-07-12 03:45:42 Bacteria are any of a very large group of single-celled microorganisms that display a wide range of metabolic types, geometric shapes and environmental habitats—and niches—of occurrence.  Normally only several micrometers in length, bacteria assume the form of  spheres, rods, spirals and other shapes. Bacteria are found in a very broad gamut of habitats; for example, bacterial extremophiles that thrive in such places as hot springs, arctic environments, radioactive waste, deep sea oil seeps, deep Earth crustal environments, hypersaline ponds and within other living organisms. There are approximately 50 million bacterial organisms in a single gram of typical surface soil. The worldwide bacterial biomass exceeds that of all plants and animals on Earth. However, the majority of bacteria have not yet been characterised, Bacteria are members of the prokaryote... More »
Microbial life in undersea volcanoes Last Updated on 2013-07-11 11:30:13 Many of the lifeforms inhabiting the Earth live in sediments and rocks. The research reported here provides the first detailed data on methane-exhaling microbes that live deep in the cracks of hot undersea volcanoes. Scientists Define New Limits of Microbial Life in Undersea Volcanoes A third of Earth's organisms live in rocks and sediments, but their lives have been a mystery By some estimates, a third of Earth's organisms live in our planet's rocks and sediments, yet their lives are almost a complete mystery. This week, the work of microbiologist James Holden of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and colleagues shines a light into this dark world. In the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), they report the first detailed data on methane-exhaling microbes that live deep in the cracks of hot undersea volcanoes. "Evidence has... More »
Tropical coral reefs and environmental stress Last Updated on 2012-09-01 00:00:00 Corals that host fewer species of algae appear less sensitive to disturbances. The following article is part ten in a series on the National Science Foundation's Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network. Visit parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight and nine in this series. Tropical Reefs' Surviving Environmental Stresses: Corals' Choice of Symbiotic Algae May Hold the Key Symbiodinium, it's technically called, but more popularly it's known as zooxanthellae. Either way, these microscopic algae that live within a coral's tissues hold the key to a tropical reef's ability to withstand environmental stresses. The effects on tropical corals of global warming, ocean acidification, pollution, coastal development and overfishing may all come down to how choosy the corals are about their algae tenants. Reef corals are the sum of... More »
Human Microbiome Project Last Updated on 2012-08-20 00:00:00 The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) aims to characterize the microbial communities found at several different sites on the human body, including nasal passages, oral cavities, skin, gastrointestinal tract, and urogenital tract, and to analyze the role of these microbes in human health and disease. Human Microbiome Project Within the body of a healthy adult, microbial cells are estimated to outnumber human cells ten to one. This community, however, remains largely unstudied, leaving their influence upon human development, physiology, immunity, and nutrition almost entirely unknown. To take advantage of recent technological advances and to develop new ones, the NIH Common Fund Human Microbiome Project (HMP) was established with the mission of generating resources enabling comprehensive characterization of the human microbiota and analysis of their role in human health and... More »