Microbial ecosystems

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  • For much of history, few things have mattered more to humans than their relations with soil. This is evidenced by a rich historical literature on aspects of soil management and soil fertility, dating back to texts of ancient civilizations of the Middle East, the Mediterranean, China, and India (see McNeill and Winiwarter 2004).

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  • Because of its accessibility, the intertidal zone has offered excellent opportunities to study the adaptations of individual organisms and populations to their environment, and the factors controlling community composition. Early work on seashores concentrated on the problems of life in an environment characterized by steep gradients in physical conditions, but in more recent years, the focus of research on the fascinating shore ecosystems has been on understanding the processes controlling their productivity and dynamic functioning.

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  • The human gastrointestinal tract microorganisms, termed the “microbiota,” have been investigated since the beginning of microbiological studies, when Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the father of microbiology, investigated the microorganisms in his own stools. The human microbiota comprises trillions of microbes distributed in various niches throughout the intestinal tract and is one of the most complex microbial ecosystems on earth.

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  • The last decade has contributed significantly to the development of research on the biogeochemistry of tropical mangrove ecosystems. Also obvious during the last decade is the continued and dramatic destruction of natural tropical mangrove resources in Southeast Asia (Fig. 1.1). The naturally high productivity of tropi- cal mangroves has traditionally been exploited for a wide variety of purposes, both as sources of forestry or fisheries products and they have also been used for human settlement (Hatcher et al., 1989; Platong, 1998).

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  • Nowadays, with over a thousand bacterial genomes sequenced, even greater opportunities have opened for experimental or computational global analysis of metabolism, physiology, and evolution. In particular, the access to comprehensive sets of molecular components (genes, proteins, regulatory signals) is at the basis of the development of novel integrative approaches, aiming at understanding the function of specific sets of these components (operons, regulons, metabolic pathways, protein complexes, etc.) in the context of the whole organism.

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  • Cold seeps occur in geologically active and passive continental margins, where pore waters enriched in methane are forced upward through the sediments by pressure gradients. The advective supply of methane leads to dense microbial communities with high metabolic rates. Anaerobic methane oxidation presumably coupled to sulphate reduction facilitates formation of carbonates and, in many places, generates extremely high concentrations of hydrogen sulphide in pore waters.

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  • CHAPTER TWELVE Ecology and Evolution of Cambrian Reefs The history of reef building through the Cambrian records the replacement of predominantly microbial communities by those in which sessile animals participated in construction, so heralding a new reef ecosystem with elaborate trophic webs, complex organism interactions

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  • Biofertilisers are defined in this application as microbial inoculants, isolated from soil or the rhizosphere of plants, assisting the mobilisation of soil nutrients such as N and P and others in the plant rhizosphere and thus promoting the growth rate and yield of plants. Successful biofertilisers can contribute to increases in food production in a highly sustainable manner, with economic and environmental advantages.

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