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Processes in Microbial Ecology$
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David L. Kirchman

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199586936

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199586936.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 29 November 2021

Symbiosis and microbes

Symbiosis and microbes

(p.257) Chapter 14 Symbiosis and microbes
Processes in Microbial Ecology

David L. Kirchman

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses interactions between microbes and higher plants and animals. Symbiosis is sometimes used to describe all interactions, even negative ones. The chapter focuses on interactions that benefit both partners (mutualism) or one partner while being neutral to the other (commensalism). Microbes are essential to the health and ecology of vertebrates, including Homo sapiens. Microbial cells outnumber human cells on our bodies, aiding in digestion and warding off pathogens. In consortia similar to the anaerobic food chain of anoxic sediments, microbes are essential in the digestion of plant material by deer, cattle, and sheep. Different types of microbes form symbiotic relationships with insects and help to explain their huge success in the biosphere. Protozoa are crucial for wood-boring insects; symbiotic bacteria in the genus Buchnera provide sugars to host aphids while obtaining essential amino acids in exchange; and fungi thrive in subterranean gardens before being harvesting for food by ants. Analogous to some insect–microbe relationships, wood-boring marine invertebrates depend on microbes for digesting cellulose and other biopolymers in wood. At hydrothermal vents in some deep oceans, sulphur-oxidizing bacteria fuel an entire ecosystem where symbiotic bacteria support the growth of giant tube worms. Higher plants also have many symbiotic relationships with bacteria and fungi. Symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria in legumes and other plants fix more nitrogen than free-living bacteria. Fungi associated with plant roots (‘mycorrhizal’) are even more common and potentially provide plants with phosphorus as well as nitrogen.

Keywords:   microbiome, rumen, bioluminescence, quorum sensing, chemoautotrophic endosymbiont, phyllosphere, bacteroids, arbuscular mycorrhizae

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