Ag Acres | Compost
Pile | Home Sweet Home | Hot Springs |
House of Horrors
Ice Land | Redox Mine Shaft | Root Cellar | Statue | Toxic Waste
Many millions of moving microbes make a mighty living munching manure in the soil. Each gram of soil may contain up to 1,000,000,000 or more microbes. That's as many microbes in a single gram of soil as there are people in all of China!
Not only are their many microbes in soil, there are many, many different species of microbes in soil. Some scientists estimate that each gram of soil may contain 10,000 different species of microorganisms! That's more biodiversity in one gram of soil than all the different types of mammals in the entire world. That's also more than all species of bacteria than have been cataloged (around 5,000)!
This section of the zoo includes many microbial habitats in addition to those found strictly in soil. These include compost, toxic wastes, hot springs, snow, and on statues.
Although we have grouped these microbes into "Dirtland," all microbes must be surrounded by water in order to live. However, a microbe can be surrounded by water less than 1 mm deep.
Many microbes convert organic wastes into useful compost.
See what lives on your cutting board, on your shower curtain, in your couch and in your carpet.
Some microbes can survive temperatures about the boiling point. These are called thermophiles.
Visit monsters of the microbial world. See vampire bacteria that suck the life juices from other bacteria, Bdellovibrio, which gets inside other bacteria and eats their guts out, and fungi that strangle worms.
Some microbes live on snow and ice and die at room temperature. These are called psychrophiles.
Some microbes, called anaerobes, "breathe" substances other than oxygen (nitric acid, sulfuric acid, iron, arsenic or uranium) to produce energy. They undergo different "redox" reactions.
Microbes live near roots in the "rhizosphere" and they live in symbiotic associations with the roots of plants.
Some microbes slowly destroy stone buildings and statuary.
Microbes thrive in chemical environments hostile to humans and remove toxins like oil and pesticides.
© 2000 Comm Tech Lab, Michigan State University. This work was created with support from the National Science Foundation and the Center for Microbial Ecology at Michigan State University. Current maintenance is supported by the Comm Tech Lab.