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Microbial Ecology: What Is It?

Microbial ecology is an important study that looks at the relationship that the microorganisms living throughout Earth have with the environment around them as well as their relationship with each other. In this study, all three major domains of life are considered. This includes Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukaryota and also looks at viruses. You may be wondering what the importance of microbial ecology is. The fact is, these very small microorganisms are found in virtually all areas of the environment, including the most extreme conditions such as lakes of acid and deep within the ocean.

Microbial ecology is quite fascinating. You will find that this study focuses on the composition as well as the physiology of these tiny beings. In doing so, people seek to learn more about how they live and what they do that affects the world around us. Most scientists believe that microorganisms cover the entire world in some form. Yet, knowing they are there is only the start. The fact is, it is estimated that scientists and researchers only know about a small fraction of them, just one percent even.

These diverse creatures are powerfully important to the rest of the planet. Microbial ecology studies this importance. Microorganisms are known to be able to withstand some of the harshest of environments. For example, you will find them in high temperatures even those that are over 100 degrees C. Additionally, microorganisms have been found in geysers, in oil wells and in high saline locations, or water that is high in alkalinity or acidity. The importance of these small creatures is evident in the way they affect the whole biosphere. They are often called the backbone of the zones where light is not found.

How is microbial ecology important to conservation and environment protection? There are several ways, but microorganisms are readily used in situ microbial biodegrading. For example, they are often used to help break down pollution that is found in soils and sediment. They can also be used in marine environments to improve the overall quality of the location. Since they are able to degrade toxic waste, they are incredibly important.

A good example of how microbial ecology works is in an oil spill. Since petroleum oil is a toxic chemical, and therefore destroys the environment, these organisms can be used to rectify the situation. They can rebuild the area by removing the oil pollution from the natural habitats.

Microbial ecology is a science that’s always being studied. With the understanding of this type of microorganism, scientists hope to be able to improve the overall well being of the planet.

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