Chapter 2 : Neighborhoods and Community Involvement: No Microbe Is an Island

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The most important thing which must be understood about microorganisms in their environments is that no microbe exists by itself. Microbes form the understructure which supports what we perceive as being the macrobial realm. The fact that this assemblage of microbes and macrobes has evolved together binds it together. No single species selected out of this assemblage could survive for very long on its own in the wild without the biological activity provided by those species which occupy the connecting niches. The degree of species diversity within communities can vary enormously. Communities typically may have several, many, or innumerable species. The indigenous populations that make up the community are responsible for the biotic balance that is maintained. They regulate the population densities or biomass of the individual component species of the community, and they act to prevent the establishment of invading species. Many types of microorganisms feed upon other microorganisms. Often, the same microbes which did the feeding then serve as prey and hosts for other microorganisms and macroorganisms in elaborate food chains. Climate is an important consideration for microbes, and there is a microbial geography. An obvious need that must be satisfied for an organism to become established is the presence of all nutrients that it requires. Knowledge of microbial community structure and community function has a key role in improving our lives. Furthermore, this knowledge will aid in understanding ways of maintaining the environment and its microbial communities.

Citation: Hurst C. 2007. Neighborhoods and Community Involvement: No Microbe Is an Island, p 6-19. In Hurst C, Crawford R, Garland J, Lipson D, Mills A, Stetzenbach L (ed), Manual of Environmental Microbiology, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815882.ch2
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Examples of barriers applying to different species

Citation: Hurst C. 2007. Neighborhoods and Community Involvement: No Microbe Is an Island, p 6-19. In Hurst C, Crawford R, Garland J, Lipson D, Mills A, Stetzenbach L (ed), Manual of Environmental Microbiology, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815882.ch2

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