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Anaerobic region with sulfide

Anaerobic region with sulfide

Oxygen concentration

Sulfide concentration

Specialized niche for aerobic sulfide-oxidizing microorganisms

Figure 28.26 The Creation of a Niche from a Microenvironment.

As shown in this illustration, two nearby particles create a physical microenvironment for possible use by microorganisms. Chemical gradients, as with oxygen from the aerobic region, and sulfide from the anaerobic region, create a unique niche. This niche thus is the physical environment and the resources available for use by specialized aerobic sulfide-oxidizing bacteria.

For example, microorganisms in the interior of a colony have markedly different microenvironments and niches than those of the same microbial populations located on the surface or edge of the colony. Microorganisms also can associate with clays and form "clay hutches" for protection (see section 42.4).

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