Biofilm in Swamp Gas Reactor


IMAGE CREDITS: Henry Aldrich

Click image to download a larger image.

Bacteria, like other organisms in nature, depend on one another for survival, particularly in hostile conditions. The above image shows various bacteria from an environment where there is no oxygen and where microbes make methane.

This particular environment is called a methane-producing biomass digester which scientists have set up in the lab to study such organisms.

Some of the microbes in this picture are called methanogens (fancy name for methane makers). Methanogens live where there is no oxygen. Like other microbes that grow without oxygen, methanogens are called anaerobes.

The methane produced by this community is used for fuel, a flammable gas known as natural gas used to heat your home.

Bacteria often like to live on surfaces. The bacteria and other microbes that live on surfaces make up a slimy surface people generally refer to as slime. Since this slim consists of live creatures, it is called a biofilm.

This picture was made using a scanning electron microscope.



methane - a gas commonly known as natural gas or swamp gas.

scanning electron microscope - an electron microscope that bounces electron off a sample to create a 3-D image.


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 © 1999 Comm Tech Lab, Michigan State University. This work was created with support from the National Science Foundation and the Center for Microbial Ecology at Michigan State University. Current maintenance is supported by the International Society for Microbial Ecology and the Comm Tech Lab. The Microbe of the Month is sponsored by the International Society for Microbial Ecology.

This page last updated 8/24/99