Respiration in microorganisms: Other paths.

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Microorganisms, especially bacteria are metabolically much more diverse than plants or animals. For instance different species of bacteria, as noted before, can carry out a number of different fermentation pathways as part of anaerobic respiration. Even within a species, the bacteria may produce different fermentation products. Bacteria in the genus Leuconostoc, can produce both lactic acid and ethanol plus carbon dioxide.

With anaerobic respiration many bacteria are able to produce more ATP than from glycolysis alone. They do this by using some other compound as an electron acceptor. Remember, this is the role of oxygen in aerobic respiration. Some of the electron acceptors used include nitrate, sulfate and carbon dioxide. Thus, in anaerobic respiration at least part of the electron transport system is used to power the production of ATP via electron transport phosphorylation. However, since not all the ETS is involved, anaerobic respiration produces less ATP than does aerobic respiration.

When carbon dioxide is used as an electron acceptor, the resulting product is either methane or acetic acid, depending on the organism involved. Much if not all the methane produced in our gut or by cows or in swamps is produced by this process. We have these types of anaerobic bacteria in our gut is well. So when you eat too many beans.....blame the anaerobic bacteria instead!

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pgd revised 02/20/00