Physiological and Ecological Adaptations of Slow-Growing, Heterotrophic Microbes and Consequences for Cultivation

  • Thomas M. SchmidtEmail author
  • Allan E. Konopka
Part of the Microbiology Monographs book series (MICROMONO, volume 10)


There is a large discrepancy between the number of microbes that can be visualized in samples from most natural environments and the small number that grows readily in the laboratory. This anomaly hinders opportunities to advance our understanding of the vast metabolic and evolutionary diversity of microbes, and imposes severe limitations on our capacity to link patterns of ecological diversity with the functioning of microbial communities. This chapter focuses on slow-growing, heterotrophic microbes as a potential source of cultures to represent the remarkable phylogenetic diversity of the microbial world. Despite the obvious advantages conferred upon microbes that leave the most progeny per unit time, chronic limitation of nutrients in many environments selects for microbes that are able to survive and use resources efficiently, even if it involves a trade-off for faster growth when resources are abundant. Understanding the ecological strategies of slow-growing microbes and adjusting expectations for cultivation to match the physiological capabilities of these microbes offer an opportunity to narrow the tremendous gap between the microscopically visible microbes and those that are readily cultivated.


Substrate Concentration Dilution Rate Chemostat Culture Cultivation Strategy Initial Substrate Concentration 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Microbiology and Molecular GeneticsMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Biological Sciences DivisionPacific Northwest National LaboratoryRichlandUSA

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