General, Research, Technology

What can bacteria eat when there is nothing around?

All organisms on our planet need from somewhereharvest energy, and bacteria are no exception. In forests, cities and even on the surface of our bodies, they always have something to feast on. But what should they do if there are no trees, no metals, or living organisms around? But for the existence of living organisms, the presence of water is also very important. In 2017, Australian scientists conducted scientific research on the territory of cold Antarctica, where there is just nothing that bacteria could eat. But, despite the harsh conditions, microscopic creatures still exist in the homeland of seals and penguins. In the course of their study, the researchers found that they need nothing but fresh air to eat. And in the desert regions of our planet there is always something to breathe. But how do bacteria extract energy from the air?

Bacteria can survive even in the most extreme conditions

What do bacteria eat?

Like other living organisms, bacteria extract energy through one of two ways of feeding. With the so-called autotrophic nutrition they replenish their energy supply bysynthesizing organic substances from inorganic ones. This sounds complicated, so let's take cyanobacteria, also known as green algae and mentioned in the article on killer algae, for example. Like plants, these bacteria get their energy from the sun's color. That is, they receive nutrients due to chemical reactions taking place under the influence of light. From the school curriculum, you probably remember the term photosynthesis - we are talking about it.

Cyanobacteria under the microscope

There is also heterotrophic nutrition, in which bacteria feed on ready toconsumption of organic substances. For example, saprophytic bacteria feed on dead parts of plants and animals. Also, do not forget about the parasites that feed on the organisms infected by them - you should know that they are also on the side of heterotrophic nutrition. Well, it is also worth mentioning the symbionts, which also feed on the "host", but in return also benefit him. For example, nodule bacteria living in the roots convert atmospheric nitrogen into nutrients and generously share them with plants.

See also: What is the difference between bacteria, microbes and viruses?

What if there is nothing to eat?

About bacteria that can survive even inconditions without obvious food, was reported in Science Alert. As it turned out, in the course of a long evolution, some types of microorganisms have learned to extract energy even from the air. So, from the air of Antarctica, bacteria found catch carbon monoxide and oxidize it to carbon dioxide. And from it, subsequently, resourceful bacteria synthesize biomolecules, which include proteins, nucleic acids and other nutrients.

Some bacteria can extract energy from the air and that's enough for them

According to researchers, such abilitiesallow bacteria to survive even in the most extreme conditions. No one will be surprised if such microorganisms are subsequently found in hot deserts and other places with harsh conditions. However, even in the Sahara Desert, with an air temperature of about 40 degrees Celsius, many bacteria always have something to eat. But in the harsh Arctic and Tibetan plateau, there are practically no other living creatures and even more so plants. So bacteria living in these areas may also have the ability to extract energy from the air. But there is no scientific evidence for this yet and this is just an assumption.

Bacteria on other planets

Another suggestion is that if bacteriacan exist in the harsh conditions of the Earth, then they may well inhabit other planets. After all, even on our planet there are microscopic creatures that can feed on completely unexpected substances. So, the above scientific discovery once again gives us hope for the existence of extraterrestrial life. Yes, it may be unreasonable, but in the future, news of the discovery of the first alien creature known to science may appear on our website.

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A colleague of mine recently wrote about bacteriaAlexander Bogdanov. In his article, he talked about why socks and shoes of some of us smell so unpleasant. It turned out that bacteria are to blame, which can emit as many as four types of stench. You can read more about everything in this article.