What Are Aerobic Organisms? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 Aerobic Organisms
  • 1:13 Aerobic Animals
  • 1:52 Aerobic Plants
  • 2:28 Aerobic Fungi
  • 3:08 Aerobic Bacteria
  • 3:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda has taught high school Biology & Physics for 8 years. She received her M.Ed. from Simmon's College and M.S. from Tufts in Cellular and Molecular Physiology.

In this lesson, we'll learn what an aerobic organism is and go over some key examples of different organisms that are aerobic. Afterward, you can test your knowledge with a short quiz.

Aerobic Organisms

Think about all life on Earth. Do all the organisms breathe like we do? You might be thinking that they don't. For example, fungus doesn't have lungs with which to breathe. But in actuality, the presence of lungs is not the determining factor here. In fact, fungi do breathe in their own way, because they take in oxygen and use it to create energy to live. And many other organisms that you might not expect breathe in their own ways.

Organisms that require oxygen to make energy and to survive are called aerobic organisms, or aerobes. It's important to note that not all organisms are aerobes. Some animals are anaerobic, which means they can create energy without the presence of oxygen, but that's for another lesson. The reason aerobes need oxygen is to make energy. They do this through a process called cellular respiration, in which they take glucose (sugar) and oxygen to make energy, also known as adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, and carbon dioxide. Now that we know what an aerobe is, let's look at some examples of aerobic organisms from each major category of living things: animals, plants, fungi and bacteria.

Aerobic Animals

Animals are multicellular, made of many cells. Most animals are aerobic, which means they need oxygen to survive. Even fish and sharks that live underwater use gills to filter oxygen into their blood. Other animals that live on land take in oxygen through their lungs. In humans, air enters through the nose and mouth and travels through tubes called bronchi into the lungs. At the end of the bronchi are small spheres called alveoli, which is where oxygen from the lungs moves into the blood and carbon dioxide moves out of the blood into the lungs to be exhaled. The fresh oxygen in the blood travels throughout the body, where it is used by cells to make energy.

Aerobic Plants

Plants are also multi-cellular organisms like us, and they make their own food. Although we might not think of plants breathing, they still take in oxygen from the atmosphere to make energy. Plants actually make their own oxygen through a process called photosynthesis, using carbon dioxide and sunlight to make glucose and oxygen, which is then released into the air for humans and other organisms to breathe. When plants go through cellular respiration, oxygen diffuses into their cells through openings in the leaves called stomata. The oxygen is then distributed to the other cells to make energy.

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