Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/15/2008
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Aquatic microbiology can be defined as the study of microorganisms and microbial communities in water environments. Aquatic environments occupy more than 70% of the earth’s surface including oceans, estuaries, rivers, lakes, wetlands, streams, springs, and aquifers. Water is essential for life and may arguably be our most important natural resource. Aquatic environments, in addition to providing water for drinking, provide essential resources for agriculture, mining, power generation, semiconductor manufacturing, and virtually every other industry. Thus, protection and preservation of these environments is a vital issue. Microorganisms are key components of the aquatic environment. As the most important primary producers, microorganisms are responsible for photosynthetically fixing carbon dioxide into organic matter. Aquatic primary production is estimated to be approximately 50% of all primary production on the earth! As will be seen, microorganisms are also the most important consumers, responsible for harvesting the organic matter produced through primary production and respiring it back into carbon dioxide. In this chapter we begin by defining the organization, composition, and functioning of the four microbial habitats, or "lifestyles", that are characteristic of aquatic environments: planktonic; sediment; microbial mat; and biofilm. We then describe and provide general microbial characteristics of the three main aquatic environments: (1) inland surface waters (lakes, rivers, streams); (2) seas (oceans, harbors etc.); and (3) groundwaters.