Micro Life Zone
Asked by awesomegal03 to Blaire, Jenny, Shona, Simon on 21 Mar 2013.
Some bacteria are photosynthetic (i.e. they can make their own food from sunlight, just like plants). Other bacteria absorb their food from the material they live on or in. Some of these bacteria can live off unusual “foods” such as iron or sulfur. The microbes that live in your gut absorb nutrients from the digested food you’ve eaten. They secrete enzymes which break the food down externally into smaller molecules which the bacteria can then absorb or engulf.
Some bacteria do eat other bacteria. Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus is a kind of bacteria which feeds on other bacteria. It has been used in India as a purifying agent of water in the River Ganges.
You may have realised that bacteria don’t have mouths like us, so they have to eat in different ways. They can eat things that are small enough by just ‘absorbing’ them through their cellular membrane, or they can release chemicals called ‘enzymes’ to break bigger food down so it’s small enough for them to absorb it. This is kinda like you proposed – dissolving food first before they eat it.
In terms of how they might eat other bacteria, they can do this thing called ‘phagocytosis’ where they wrap their cell membrane around something and literally engulf it. Here’s a picture to help you visualise it: https://www.yellowtang.org/images/phagocytosis_1_c_la_784.jpg. This is how they would eat bigger things like other bacteria, but as Jenny mentioned not all bacteria eat other bacteria.
These girls, did a far better job explaining it than I could, thanks Jennifer and Blaire.
Cool that’s really weird!
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