Types of Bacteria Found in Anaerobic Environments

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Anaerobes are organisms that grow in environments without oxygen. Explore the definition of anoxic microbes and anaerobes, the different types or classes of anaerobes, and examples of well-known bacteria found in anaerobic environments. Updated: 09/24/2021

Anoxic Microbes

Most of the things we can think of in this world, such as humans, insects, trees and birds, all have something in common. It is their need for oxygen in order to sustain life. Without molecular oxygen, we would all simply die.

But, the world around us is far grander and more complex than that. There are plenty of living things, billions of them, which actually don't care for oxygen. They actually depend on anoxic, or oxygen-free, environments to survive. Basically, the substance that you need to live can actually kill them!

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  • 0:43 Different Types of Anaerobes
  • 2:49 Examples of Anaerobic Bacteria
  • 3:58 Lesson Summary
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The Different Types of Anaerobes

An organism that doesn't require oxygen for growth is known as an anaerobe. This is in contrast to an aerobe, which is an organism that needs oxygen to grow.

The anaerobes are further subdivided into three main classes. There are obligate anaerobes, which are organisms that use an anaerobic metabolism to grow and are killed in the presence of oxygen; aerotolerant anaerobes, which are organisms with an anaerobic metabolism that can live in oxygen or oxygen-free environments; and facultative anaerobes, which are organisms that prefer to grow using aerobic metabolic processes but can switch to an anaerobic metabolism in the absence of oxygen.

We can liken these three subgroups of anaerobes to the different personalities people may have. Some people are just ultra-stubborn, like Stubborn Sam. No matter what, Stubborn Sam absolutely hates anything to do with carbs. He's on the Atkins diet and thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread. Stubborn Sam doesn't want carbs to survive; he doesn't want to see them, hear about them or smell them. That's it. End of story. Stubborn Sam is like our obligate anaerobe.

On the other hand, there are people like Tolerant Tammy. Tolerant Tammy is also on the Atkins diet and doesn't like carbs. But, unlike Stubborn Sam, Tolerant Tammy is willing to be around carbs as long as other people use it for growth and she doesn't have to. She's like our aerotolerant anaerobes.

Finally, we have Opportunistic Olga. She's smart. Opportunistic Olga will utilize carbs for her growth and survival if they are there, but will switch to the Atkins diet if they're not. She's obviously like our facultative anaerobes.

Examples of Anaerobic Bacteria

Regardless of which subtype they are, there are many different types of anaerobic bacteria - way too many to list in one or even a dozen lessons. However, some are quite well known and deserve to be at least briefly mentioned. These include:

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