The Amazing Actinomycete Bacteria

Actinomycetes differ from other soil bacteria in many ways. Actinomycetes develop filaments, almost the same as fungal hyphae. Some researchers believe Actinomycetes use these filaments for connecting themselves together with soil pieces. In doing so, they become too big to be eaten by their enemy the protozoan ciliates. Ciliate protozoans engulf and ingest our friends the aerobic bacteria. The most important note concerning Actinomycetes: they are particularly handy at decaying cellulose and chitin. These are two hard, brown carbon compounds in plants, fungus and arthropods, not typical foodstuffs for most other bacteria. Actinomycetes also are tailored to exist in a broader spread of pH compared to other bacteria. If these bacterial acrobatics are not enough to amaze you, here is one that will. Some plants form small pouches devoid of O2, anaerobic nodules, where the Actinomycetes use enzyme nitrogenase to transform nitrogen in the atmosphere to ammonia, NH3+. The image at the top of the page, shows these nodules in the root system of a tree, courtesy of www.toof.org.uk.

Image: Actinomycetes |courtesy of http://soils.usda.gov