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Prokaryotes are metabolically diverse organisms. In many cases, a prokaryote may be placed into a species clade by its defining metabolic features: Can it metabolize lactose? Can it grow on citrate? Does it produce H2S? Does it ferment carbohydrates to produce acid and gas? Can it grow under anaerobic conditions? Since metabolism and metabolites are the product of enzyme pathways, and enzymes are encoded in genes, the metabolic capabilities of a prokaryote are a reflection of its genome.
There are many different environments on Earth with various energy and carbon sources, and variable conditions to which prokaryotes may be able to adapt. Prokaryotes have been able to live in every environment from deep-water volcanic vents to Antarctic ice by using whatever energy and carbon sources are available.
Prokaryotes fill many niches on Earth, including involvement in nitrogen and carbon cycles, photosynthetic production of oxygen, decomposition of dead organisms, and thriving as parasitic, commensal, or mutualistic organisms inside multicellular organisms, including humans. The very broad range of environments that prokaryotes occupy is possible because they have diverse metabolic processes.
Needs of Prokaryotes
The diverse environments and ecosystems on Earth have a wide range of conditions in terms of temperature, available nutrients, acidity, salinity, oxygen availability, and energy sources. Prokaryotes are very well equipped to make their living out of a vast array of nutrients and environmental conditions. To live, prokaryotes need a source of energy, a source of carbon, and some additional nutrients.
Cells are essentially a well-organized assemblage of macromolecules and water. Recall that macromolecules are produced by the polymerization of smaller units called monomers. For cells to build all of the molecules required to sustain life, they need certain substances, collectively called nutrients. When prokaryotes grow in nature, they must obtain their nutrients from the environment. Nutrients that are required in large amounts are called macronutrients, whereas those required in smaller or trace amounts are called micronutrients. (A mnemonic for remembering these elements is the acronym CHONPS.)
Why are these macronutrients needed in large amounts?
They are the components of organic compounds in cells, including water. Carbon is the major element in all macromolecules: carbohydrates, proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, and many other compounds. Carbon accounts for about 50 percent of the composition of the cell. In contrast, nitrogen represents only 12 percent of the total dry weight of a typical cell. Nitrogen is a component of proteins, nucleic acids, and other cell constituents. Most of the nitrogen available in nature is either atmospheric nitrogen (N2) or another inorganic form.
Diatomic (N2) nitrogen, however, can be converted into an organic form only by certain microorganisms, called nitrogen-fixing organisms. Both hydrogen and oxygen are part of many organic compounds and of water. Sulfur is part of the structure of some amino acids such as cysteine and methionine, and is also present in several vitamins and coenzymes. Other important macronutrients are potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), calcium (Ca), and sodium (Na).
In addition to these macronutrients, prokaryotes require various metallic elements in small amounts. These are referred to as micronutrients or trace elements. For example, iron is necessary for the function of the cytochromes involved in electron-transport reactions. Some prokaryotes require other elements—such as boron (B), chromium (Cr), and manganese (Mn)—primarily as enzyme cofactors.
The Ways in Which Prokaryotes Obtain Energy
Prokaryotes are classified both by the way they obtain energy, and by the carbon source they use for producing organic molecules. Prokaryotes can use different sources of energy to generate the ATP needed for biosynthesis and other cellular activities.
Phototrophs (or phototrophic organisms) obtain their energy from sunlight. Phototrophs trap the energy of light using chlorophylls, or in a few cases, bacterial rhodopsin. (Rhodopsin-using phototrophs, oddly, are phototrophic, but not photosynthetic, since they do not fix carbon.) Chemotrophs (or chemosynthetic organisms) obtain their energy from chemical compounds.
Energy-producing pathways may be either aerobic, using oxygen as the terminal electron acceptor, or anaerobic, using either simple inorganic compounds or organic molecules as the terminal electron acceptor. Since prokaryotes lived on Earth for nearly a billion years before photosynthesis produced significant amounts of oxygen for aerobic respiration, many species of both Bacteria and Archaea are anaerobic and their metabolic activities are important in the carbon and nitrogen cycles discussed below.
The Ways in Which Prokaryotes Obtain Carbon
Prokaryotes not only can use different sources of energy, but also different sources of carbon compounds. Autotrophic prokaryotes synthesize organic molecules from carbon dioxide. In contrast, heterotrophic prokaryotes obtain carbon from organic compounds.
Thus, photoautotrophs use energy from sunlight, and carbon from carbon dioxide and water, whereas chemoheterotrophs obtain both energy and carbon from an organic chemical source. Chemolithoautotrophs obtain their energy from inorganic compounds, and they build their complex molecules from carbon dioxide.
Finally, prokaryotes that get their energy from light, but their carbon from organic compounds, are photoheterotrophs. The table below ((Figure)) summarizes carbon and energy sources in prokaryotes.
|Carbon and Energy Sources in Prokaryotes
What are Heterotrophs give two examples?
Dogs, birds, fish, and humans are all examples of heterotrophs. Heterotrophs occupy the second and third levels in a food chain, a sequence of organisms that provide energy and nutrients for other organisms.
What obtains energy by eating other organisms?
Heterotrophs, or consumers, are organisms that must obtain energy by consuming other organisms (autotrophs or other heterotrophs) as food.
How is energy transferred within an ecosystem?
Energy is transferred between organisms in food webs from producers to consumers. This energy is available for higher order consumers. At each stage of a food chain, most of the chemical energy is converted to other forms such as heat, and does not remain within the ecosystem.
What types of organisms do not require sunlight to live?
There are bacteria that live in hot springs and other volcanic water that get their energy from chemicals released as a result of volcanic activity. They do not need light, and they do not need oxygen, and the Earth’s interior provides them with heat, so they can live without the sun.
How does energy enter most ecosystems?
Where does energy enter most ecosystems? Energy enters most ecosystems as sunlight. It is converted to chemical energy by autotrophs, passed to heterotrophs in the organic compounds of food, and dissipated as heat. Chemical elements, such as carbon, are cycled among abiotic and biotic components of the ecosystem.
Which way does energy flow and how does eating an organism result in energy transfer?
Energy is transferred between trophic levels when one organism eats another and gets the energy-rich molecules from its prey’s body.
Which best describes the exchange of energy between the organisms?
Which BEST describes the exchange of energy between the organisms? One organism obtains energy from the environment, while the others obtain energy by eating other organisms.
When energy is lost where does it go?
While the total energy of a system is always conserved, the kinetic energy carried by the moving objects is not always conserved. In an inelastic collision, energy is lost to the environment, transferred into other forms such as heat.
What happens to this lost energy how much is lost Where did the energy go?
This means that, whatever happens you will “lose” some energy in the form of heat. This energy is unusable again. Sure, you can take some of the energy of the sun and convert it into electricity, but however, we’re able to take in only a small fraction of the energy.
Is energy always lost?
The total amount of energy and matter in the Universe remains constant, merely changing from one form to another. The First Law of Thermodynamics (Conservation) states that energy is always conserved, it cannot be created or destroyed.
Why is energy lost?
About 90 per cent of energy may be lost as heat (released during respiration), through movement, or in materials that the consumer does not digest.
Is energy lost when machines don’t work right?
As per law of conservation of energy we can say that energy will convert from one form to another form in an isolated system but the total energy of the system will always remain conserved.
Why does light get sucked into Blackhole?
Once a particle of light (‘photon’) passes the ‘event horizon’ of a black hole, it can no longer escape, but there’s nothing to suggest that it is destroyed. Like matter, the photon is rapidly sucked towards the ‘singularity’ at the centre of the black hole, where a huge mass is packed into an infinitely small space.