The role of micro-organisms in decomposition

Biology Unit 4

The role of micro-organisms in decomposition

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Biology Unit 4
Revision Notes
Topic 6: Infection, Immunity and Forensics
9. Describe the role of micro-organisms in the
decomposition of organic matter and the recycling of
carbon.
Decay and decomposition is vital for the continuation of life on Earth. Plants need nutrients such as
nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and carbon to make biomass. These nutrients are locked into the
tissues of the plants and any animals that might eat them. Once the plant or animal dies the nutrients
can be released only through decay. The process of decomposition allows the nutrients to be
recycled.
Micro-organisms are crucial to the decomposition process. The carbon cycle is a good example of
how nutrients are recycles and how micro-organisms help. Bacteria and fungi produce a range of
enzymes that are released onto the dead organic matter. The products of external digestion are
absorbed by the micro-organism and broken down in microbial respiration, releasing carbon dioxide
back into the atmosphere where it can be used again in photosynthesis.
Text Book: p. 91

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