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Role of Bacteria in Environment
#11
Apart from above applications of bacteria, there are many other promising discoveries being made continuously and which are applied in Medical, Nanotechnology, diagnostic and environmental fields. Not only bacteria, but bacterial spores are considered as potential source of development in nanotechnology. This is due to their unique property of withstanding extreme conditions and showing resistance against specific physical and chemical circumstances. Bacterial spores are considered as dormant phase of bacterial life cycle and are very robust form. This coat that is spore is made up of multilayer proteins and other bio molecules. In nanotechnology, spores are being used as self assembling promoters and are very specific in delivery of foreign molecules as and where required. With slight genetic modification, they develop unique properties which are used in nanotechnology like spore coat are used as vehicle for vaccination and for heterologous antigen presentation.
There are two main genera of bacteria which are undergoing sporulation are Bacillus and Clostridium and are most resistant to high temperature, high pH , Rh and even toxic chemicals. Another unique property of bacterial and their spore is the lattice-type crystalline arrays which they produce. These types of protective properties are being used in delivery of specific molecule to specified sites and thus these bacteria and their spores act as a vehicle!
#12
Microorganisms are known as the first living creatures of our planet earth. They are on earth before humans. They created all necessary changes in the environment (with their catabolic and anabolic biochemical pathways) which are necessary for the formation of multi-cellular life like animals and plants. It is possible that they might have developed first molecule of oxygen in a symbiotic method with other creatures. They earlier existed in deep oceans from where they evolved with the use of solar energy for their food and water. Today the same photosynthetic pathway is employed by chlorophyll containing plants.

Bacteria have very unique characteristics of withstanding against extremes conditions. These are extreme cold, hot, extreme pH, extreme relative humidity and other extreme chemical environment. Whatever is the condition, they survive. This is done either by sporulation or by developing the required phenotypes in next generations, like capsules and strong cell walls etc., this power had helped bacteria and other microorganisms to evolve strongly along with other animals and even with humans.
Bacteria is helping environment by fixing atmospheric nitrogen for plants with the help of their unique gene which is known as “Nif gene”. This helps bacteria to fix nitrogen in to nitrate which can be easily utilized by plants. They also degrade complex wastes into simpler form and helps in maintaining the natural balance.
Today we cannot image medical science without microorganism and antibiotic producing bacteria. [b]They are used widely in biotechnology in production of insulin and many such other products which had helped mankind![/b]
#13
Informative post shared here in this thread..Bacteria act as decomposers.It decompose dead organism,fixed nitrogen and breakdown some petroleum.
#14
Bacteria live in virtually all the environments on earth, including the soil, water, and air. Most bacteria can be divided into three groups according to their shapes such as cocci, bacilli and spirilla. Bacteria plays many beneficial roles in the environment. some species of bacteria live on the roots of pod-bearing plants they provide nitrogen trough air to the plants. Many dead materials are decomposed by bacteria. If there were no bacteria, the environment would have been polluted and full of harmful microorganisms In the food industry, bacteria are used to prepare many products, such as cheeses, fermented dairy products, sauerkraut, and pickles.
#15
Bacteria and other micro-organisms are, indeed, extremely important in the environment. They have an important job of helping to cycle nutrients. As the original poster mentioned, they help decompose dead organic matter, and recycle those nutrients back into the environment for other living organisms to use.

One skill that humans excel at is taking things from our environment and using them for our own benefit. We can do this with bacteria, too. As another poster already mentioned, we can use bioremediation to help treat our water supplies. The microbes help remove pollutants and other potentially harmful materials. Bacteria and fungi are the most common organisms used for bioremediation. We also have bacteria that can break down petroleum products. These bacteria are considered useful for cleaning up oil spills. Some people worry that introducing these bacteria to oil spills could cause them to take over that environment. It is true that the bacteria will multiply rapidly when introduced to an oil spill. However, once they have completed their job, they will be out of food, and will then die off. Other microbes in the environment will then break them down so their components can be reused by other organisms. We also use bacteria to make our food. Yogurt, for example, is made usingss bacteria.

Bacteria also play a role in helping break down organic matter in living organisms. Humans, for example, have about 10 bacteria cells living in or on us for every one human cell. These bacteria help with many things. The bacteria in our guts help us break down food, and even produce some vitamins for our bodies to use.

Without bacteria in our environment, our world would be very different. Photosynthetic bacteria were responsible for creating the oxygen in our atmosphere that we now rely on for life. Bacteria and other microbes have shaped our world.
#16
Bacteria does not exist for nothing. We may abhor these organisms but they help in the decomposing processes.
#17
Microorganisms are integral part of our environment and without them the world will not survive. In the final stage of the food chain, microorganisms, including bacteria play the significant role as DECOMPOSERS. They are responsible for breaking down the energy rich organic compounds coming from decayed matter of both plants, animals (including leaves, dead plants and animal bodies or from animal wastes). In short degradation mediated by microorganisms and thus cleaning of environment is termed as bioremedation.

The biosphere is full of microbes and invariably their presence has a strong effect on its surroundings. Microorganisms impart both harmful and beneficial effects on their surrounding environment depending on the microorganisms concerned and also depends on our observation.
The role of microbes in the environment depends on their metabolic activities along with their relations with plants and animals and also on their use in biotechnological procedures and food production.

Role of microbes in nutrient and element cycles
Carbon ©, oxygen (O), hydrogen (H), sulfur (S), nitrogen (N), potassium (K), phosphorus (P), sodium (Na), iron (Fe), magnesium (Mg) and calcium (Ca) are the elemental matters that constitute living system. Among them C, H, O, N, S, and P are the primary components of organic matter. C and H are always present in an organic compound and is represented by the empirical formula for glucose (CH2O). Carbon dioxide (CO2) is taken as an inorganic form of carbon.

Breakdown of complex organic materials to simple forms of carbon, so that other organisms can utilize them, is carried out through biodegradation or decomposition. Interestingly, every organic compounds with natural origin can be broken down into simpler forms of carbon (CO2) with the help of microorganisms and thus returned into the environment. In this scenario compound like plastics, Styrofoam, Teflon, insecticides and pesticides are not so easily broken down by microbes and hence are known as not biodegradable compounds.

Plants and animals can utilize ammonia (NH3), which is produced by conversion of N2 from the atmosphere with the help of microorganisms. This process, known as nitrogen fixation is essential for survival of plants and animals as plants cannot take up free nitrogen from the atmosphere. Nitrogen fixation is the only natural process of replenishing the spent nitrogen from the soil due to agricultural activities. Both free-living (in soil and aquatic environment) and symbiotic bacteria (association with plants) play a major role in nitrogen fixation.

Isolation and study of characteristics of microorganisms responsible for the key biochemical cycles in laboratory cultures are the traditional method for determining their importance in respective cycles. But with the advancement in molecular techniques, the presence of many microorganisms came into light, which could not be detected earlier with isolation technique.

Many hidden microbes with potential beneficial effect on the environment is now uncovered by metagenomic studies followed by laboratory isolation.
The bacterial role in the oxidation of the ammonia need to be reassessed with the invent of this current techniques as now the importance of the group archaea (which cannot be cultured easily in laboratory conditions) also came into light. Metagenomic analysis and [/align] will definitely help us evaluate the role of bacteria and other microbes in the environment in the near future.[align=justify]
#18
Bacteria can exist in very many environmental conditions and extremes. This resilience is due to the fact that they can evolve and mutate very easily by changing their DNA in relation to the surroundings.
#19
The term ‘extremophile’ applies to organisms that can survive in extreme environmental conditions such as in extremes of heat, cold or acidity. Most of the known extremophiles are microbes, including many bacteria. One recent exciting example of discovery of an extremophile bacteria is the identification of bacteria living in the cold and dark deep under the Antarctic ice, reported in the New York Times in 2013. These bacteria were found in water and sediment samples obtained by drilling down through a half-mile of ice into Lake Whillans. The presence of live bacteria was confirmed microscopically and by confirmation of presence of DNA and by measurement of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels. (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/07/science/living-bacteria-found-deep-under-antarctic-ice-scientists-say.html?_r=0)

Extremophile bacteria have proved useful in biotechnological applications. One famous example is the use of the heat-resistant enzyme Taq DNA polymerase in the process of polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a method first developed by Kary Mullis in 1983 that has transformed molecular biology and is used in processes from disease diagnosis to forensic science. A PCR reaction basically uses a single-stranded DNA template in the presence of a heat-stable DNA polymerase with an optimal catalytic activity at approximately 70[sup]0[/sup]C, nucleotides and DNA oligonucleotides (sequence-specific DNA primers). Most PCR methods use thermal cycling, which involves repeated cycles of heating and cooling in order to allow denaturing of the DNA template (approximately 95[sup]0[/sup]C), annealing of the primers (approximately 55[sup]0[/sup]C, depending on the primer sequences) and extension of the PCR product (approximately 72[sup]0[/sup]C), through a defined series of temperature steps. The most well-known of the heat resistant polymerases used is Taq DNA polymerase, derived from the extremophile Thermus aquaticus, a gram-negative bacterium that can tolerate high temperatures. It is a member of Deinococcus-Thermus group of thermophilic. T. aquaticus was first discovered in the Lower Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park but has since been found in other similar environments. Other naturally occurring heat-stable DNA polymerases that can be used include Pfu polymerase from Pyrococcus furiosus, which has a lower error rate than Taq polymerase and Vent polymerase (Tli polymerase) from Thermococcus litoralis, which has a half-life of approximately 7 h at 95[sup]0[/sup]C as opposed to approximately 1.6 h for Taq polymerase. All of these enzymes are derived from extremophile bacterial species that survive at extremes of heat in nature.
  


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