Quantifying Microorganisms And Their Activity

In Chapter 10 we discussed the great variety of microorganisms and their abilities in a mainly qualitative way. In many cases in environmental engineering and science, it is desirable or necessary to deal with microorganisms in a quantitative fashion. What is their density in a system: How many are there, or what is their mass? How rapidly are they growing, transforming substrates, or producing products? First, we look at the elemental composition of microorganisms. Next, we consider the microscope, an important tool of the microbiologist. Then, after some preliminary consideration of sampling and preparation, we look at a number of ways that the biomass of microorganisms can be determined, their numbers estimated, and their effect on a system quantified. Finally, we examine some of the simple models that can be used to help understand or even predict microbial activities. The focus is on general approaches rather than detailed specific applications.

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