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Name: Alison B.
Status: Student
Age: 17
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: June 2002


Question:
Hello, I have had a lot of trouble finding out what role archaebacteria play in their environment. I have found out a lot of things on their environment and that, but i can't find out what there purpose is, what is it that they do?



Replies:
They inhabit most of the extreme environments of the planet...hot springs and such.

Peter Faletra Ph.D.
Assistant Director
Science Education
Office of Science
Department of Energy


Alison,

why do you think bacteria or archaea must 'do' something? They live and multiply, and convert chemicals into biochemicals while they live, using various sources of energy to produce biomass. In essence, that is what every living organims does. Should there be a purpose for their presence? That, to my view, is either a phylosophical or a religious question, but it is not to science to answer it.

Trudy Wassenaar


Organisms do not have to do anything in particular except grow, survive and reproduce. That is all that is necessary to continue into the future. There is no natural need for anything to be useful to humans or any other species, for that matter.

That said, archaebacteria fill roles in their ecosystems that no other organism is able to do. For instance, the guts of grass-eating mammals, such as cows, require the help of archaebacteria called methanogens to get energy from cellulose. Termites also require similar organisms to allow them to eat wood.

Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant Director
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois



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