Do we always know when a microbe is eating?

About the shape and function of different specimens
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DonSchaeffer
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Do we always know when a microbe is eating?

#1 Post by DonSchaeffer » Mon Jan 15, 2024 8:47 pm

Do microbes have a special, recognizable eating behavior? Do they just absorb nutrients helter skelter or is does eating have a special procedure? Can microbes eat on the go while behaving in an undirected way?

SuiGenerisBrewing
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Re: Do we always know when a microbe is eating?

#2 Post by SuiGenerisBrewing » Tue Jan 16, 2024 1:10 pm

Depends on the microbe. Bacteria generally acquire nutrients by secreting enzymes that break down food in the environment which is then imported by specialized proteins into the bacteria. Some don't even both with the enzymes and just import what they can.

Most algae photosynthesize and make their own food. That said, they still need to absorb other nutrients from the environment, generally using importer proteins like other bacteria.

Eukaryotes are much more varied. All of them have a process called endocytosis which allows for them to take up small amounts of liquid from their environment, from which they can extract nutrients. Some take this further, and actively engulf whole organisms as prey, digest them in a lysosome (feeding vacuole), and absorb the nutrients. Still others will "stab" prey with needles which then absorb nutrients (again, often by endocytosing the preys innards.

If you include microscopic animals like tardigrades in the category of "microbes", then you have something that feeds more like us - food in engulfed into a dedicated digestive tract, broken down enzymatically, and nutrients absorbed.

DonSchaeffer
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Re: Do we always know when a microbe is eating?

#3 Post by DonSchaeffer » Tue Feb 13, 2024 8:09 pm

That is very instructive. Thanks.

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