Chemosynthesis In Sulfur Bacteria

Three other bacteria -- Beggiatoa (white or yellow), Chlorobium (green), and Chromatium (purple and violet) -- use hydrogen sulfide as part or all or their energy source to make food; because they also require oxygen, you will find these bacteria near the surface of the sediments.

One will be kept in the dark and the other will be placed under a light source.

Obtain mud from a local lake, river, or bay or estuary.

High temperatures and high concentrations of dissolved minerals in seawater form compounds such as hydrogen sulfide.

In a biochemical process, bacteria oxidize hydrogen sulfide and use the liberated energy to produce carbohydrates (i.e., stored chemical energy).

Chemosynthetic bacteria may be one of the oldest life forms on Earth.

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The classic Winogradsky column --developed long before hydrothermal vent ecosystems were discovered -- provides an excellent illustration of bacterial growth and succession.Scientists once thought that sunlight was source of energy for all life and that photosynthesis was the only way to make food.It is now known that reduced chemicals from hydrothermal vents provide chemosynthetic energy for some lifeforms.If it is not completely black let the mud sit for awhile in a jar to blacken.Before the experiment begins, give students a tutorial on what to look for in their cylinders.It is difficult to know exactly what bacteria are actually growing in the columns.The first species may be the anaerobic (i.e., living in the absence of oxygen) bacterium Clostridium; this heterotroph (i.e., requires organic material for food) would use the straw or filter paper as a carbon source to produce food.Just a few decades ago, submersibles and remote sensing technologies allowed scientists to visit the farthest reaches of the ocean for the very first time.Of the many wonders they discovered, one of the most surprising was the existence of rich clusters of life flourishing in the darkness of the deep sea floor.The inner workings of these ecosystems have proved to be as unusual as their location, for they are powered not by the light of the sun but by the heat of the earth.At the heart of these deep-sea communities is a process called chemosynthesis.


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