Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Processes in Microbial Ecology$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

David L. Kirchman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198789406

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198789406.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

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: 07 December 2021

Elements, biochemicals, and structures of microbes

Elements, biochemicals, and structures of microbes

(p.18) Chapter 2 Elements, biochemicals, and structures of microbes
Processes in Microbial Ecology

David L. Kirchman

Oxford University Press

Microbiologists focus on the basic biochemical make-up of microbes, such as relative amounts of protein, RNA, and DNA in cells, while ecologists and biogeochemists use elemental ratios, most notably, the ratio of carbon to nitrogen (C:N), to explore biogeochemical processes and to connect up the carbon cycle with the cycle of other elements. Microbial ecologists make use of both types of data and approaches. This chapter combines both and reviews all things, from elements to macromolecular structures, that make up bacteria and other microbes. The most commonly used elemental ratio was discovered by Alfred Redfield who concluded that microbes have a huge impact on the chemistry of the oceans because of the similarity in nitrogen-to-phosphorus ratios for organisms and nitrate-to-phosphate ratios in the deep oceans. Although statistically different, the C:N ratios in soil microbes are remarkably similar to the ratios of aquatic microbes. The chapter moves on to discussing the macromolecular composition of bacteria and other microbes. This composition gives insights into the growth state of microbes in nature. Geochemists use specific compounds, “biomarkers”, to trace sources of organic material in ecosystems. The last section of the chapter is a review of extracellular polymers, pili, and flagella, which serve a variety of functions, from propelling microbes around to keeping them stuck in one place.

Keywords:   Redfield ratios, ecological stoichiometry, biomarkers, muramic acid, lipopolysaccharides, peptidoglycan, RNA content

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .