Types of Cooperation Among Anaerobic Microorganisms

Whereas aerobic bacteria are usually considered to be able to degrade complex organic matter completely to CO2 and H2O, this is true in the anaerobic world only in some exceptional cases. Complex biomass is typically degraded in several steps, including classical (primary) fermentations, with subsequent further oxidation by sulfate reduction or iron reduction, or by coupling primary fermentations with secondary fermentations to methanogenesis at the very end (Bryant 1979; Mclnerney 1988; Stams 1994; Schink 1997). This kind of jobsharing among anaerobic microorganisms makes the whole process more complicated at first sight, but ascribes to every single organism only a limited task it has to fulfill and, with this, far less effort is needed for regulation of its metabolism.

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