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Antibiotics enter the environment in wastewater from pharmaceutical manufacturing plants, in wastes from farms where they are used in animals, and in sewage from human populations. (Many antibiotics are excreted in their active form.) The influx of antibiotics into the environment is a concern because the presence of these compounds in the environment selects for antibiotic resistance. As pollutants, antibiotics can also have ecological effects. Describe some of the ecological roles of bacteria, and explain why disruption of these roles by antibiotic pollution would have a negative impact.

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Biology: The Unity and Diversity o...

15th Edition
Cecie Starr + 3 others
Publisher: Cengage Learning
ISBN: 9781337408332

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Chapter
Section
BuyFindarrow_forward

Biology: The Unity and Diversity o...

15th Edition
Cecie Starr + 3 others
Publisher: Cengage Learning
ISBN: 9781337408332
Chapter 20, Problem 1CT
Textbook Problem
243 views

Antibiotics enter the environment in wastewater from pharmaceutical manufacturing plants, in wastes from farms where they are used in animals, and in sewage from human populations. (Many antibiotics are excreted in their active form.) The influx of antibiotics into the environment is a concern because the presence of these compounds in the environment selects for antibiotic resistance. As pollutants, antibiotics can also have ecological effects. Describe some of the ecological roles of bacteria, and explain why disruption of these roles by antibiotic pollution would have a negative impact.

Summary Introduction

To explain: Ecological roles of bacteria and disruption of those roles by antibiotic pollution.

Concept introduction: Bacteria are the unicellular prokaryotes that are generally considered as a pathogen (harmful pathogenic bacteria) but ecologically plays an important role in the environment. Those beneficial bacteria can act as decomposers, nitrogen fixators, agent for bioremediation and waste water treatment, and so on. But the antibiotic discharge from the industrial outlet may be one off the main risk involved in the disruption of the ecological role played by the bacteria. This risk is because of the development of antibiotic resistance in the existing bacteria and turns into more pathogenic organisms.

Explanation of Solution

The ecological role played by the bacteria in the environment includes the following:

  1. 1. Decomposers: They are the natural organic decomposers found in the nature that utilize and convert the dead matter and convert it to simpler organic molecules, as a result they balance the food chain.
  2. 2. Nitrogen fixers: Nitrogen fixers such as Rhizobium (present in the root nodules of plants) and cyanobacteria help the plants by transferring the atmospheric nitrogen to nitrates and nitrites and make it available for the plants in the utilizable form.
  3. 3. Agent for bioremediation:  Bacteria play an important role in remediating the contaminated environment. They can utilize the toxic inorganic compound as carbon source and are able to convert them to simpler less toxic compounds.
  4. 4. Agent for waste water treatment: Bacteria can utilize the waste materials present in the water as a sole source of carbon. So, they have been widely exploited for treating the waste water in industries...

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