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Microbiology Australia Microbiology Australia
Issue 4

The Microbial Ecology of the Environment

Microbial ecology of the environment

To study microbes, is to study the biosphere. Carl Woese (15 July 1928–30 December 2012)

A sea of microbes: the diversity and activity of marine microorganisms

Covering 70% of the earth's surface, with an average depth of 3.6 km, the ocean's total volume of 1.3 billion cubic kilometres represents perhaps the largest inhabitable space in the biosphere. Within this vast ecosystem, 90% of all living biomass is microbial. Indeed, seawater from all marine environments, ranging from the warm and sunlit upper ocean to the cold, dark and anoxic deep sea floor, and from the tropics to the arctic, is teeming with microbial life. A single teaspoon of seawater typically contains over 50 million viruses, 5million ...

Wastewater, wheat and table wipes: adventures in culture-independent microbiology

The sequencing of ribosomal RNA and DNA (rRNA/rDNA) from environmental samples heralded a new age in microbiology13. The advent of next-generation sequencing supercharged these methods, which now give high-resolution data sets, enabling real insights into microbial diversity and function in complex systems47. Here, three local applications of 16S rDNA pyrosequencing are described, which highlight the usefulness of this approach for addressing practical questions i...

Microbial diversity and activity in caves

In recent times, there have been renewed interests in cave ecosystems for both economic and scientific reasons. This is because caves can contain fossils, artifacts, Palaeolithic paintings, ancient markings in form of finger flutings and beautiful speleothems (mineral deposits). These features are attractive and their presence has led to an increase in the number of people visiting caves (tourism) with associated economic benefits to the cave management authorities and the communities in which these caves are located. Unfortunately some of thes...

The microbiology of acid sulfate soils and sulfidic sediments

Acid sulfate soils and their associated sulfidic sediments present a major hazard to sustainable farming, water security and urban infrastructure. Traditionally these soils are limed in order to neutralise the ‘leachate' that is a public health hazard and toxic to aquatic organisms. It may be more sustainable to exploit the soil microorganisms capable of sequestering metals to remediate these soils. Until recently, little was known about the microbial ecology of these environments. The soils have a moderately acidic (pH 4) chemistry and ...

Bioavailability and biodegradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

Contaminant bioavailability plays an influential role in the efficacy of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon biodegradation.

The microbiology of microbial electrolysis cells

Electromicrobiology is a new discipline that investigates the ability of microbial species to interact with insoluble external electron acceptors and donors. This ability has most commonly been studied through microbial communities found in association with electrodes as part of a microbial electrolysis cell (MEC). MECs are devices that employ bacteria capable of utilising either an anode as an electron acceptor or a cathode as an electron donor to carry out biologically driven processes. In effect, these devices make use of microbes that are e...

Marine microbes in the Plastic Age

We are living in the ‘Plastic Age', but unfortunately our non-human relatives with whom we share our planet are not adapted to cope with the thousands of tons of plastic waste entering rivers, seas and oceans each year. Plastic poses both physical and chemical threats to aquatic life. It leads to damage or death of animals following plastic entanglement or ingestion and/or can lead to bioaccumulation of co-pollutants absorbed on plastic surfaces. Once ingested, co-pollutants can be absorbed into tissues and accumulated in the food chain....

Microbiology of chloroethene degradation in groundwater

Industrial development, population growth and urbanisation have all contributed to an increase in the release of chemical pollutants into the environment. Consequently, many natural resources show some degree of anthropogenic impact, including the widespread contamination of groundwater aquifers by hazardous wastes1. This is particularly significant because groundwater represents about 98% of the available freshwater on the planet. The fact that we are already using approximately 50% of readily available freshwater makes groundwater ...

Report from ASM 2014: Solving the Puzzles

Dr Paul Kenneth Priscott 1950–2014

Volume 35 Number 4

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