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An aerobic environment is one characterized by the presence of free oxygen (O2), in contrast to an anaerobic environment which is one devoid of free oxygen (WKU, 2013). Aerobic organisms grow or metabolize only in the presence of molecular oxygen (Mekone and Kandel, 1986; Talaro and Talaro, 1993), such as in the upper few centimeters of estuarine bottom sediments where concentrations of free oxygen are significant and chemically oxidizing processes prevail (EPA, 1990). In this environment, aerobic bacteria readily decompose organic matter, breaking down the organic molecules to simple inorganic constituents (Talaro and Talaro, 1993). These organisms require oxygen as their terminal electron acceptor. Anaerobes (anaerobic bacteria), however, grow or metabolize only in the absence of molecular oxygen, such as in the deeper sediment layers of estuarine and marine environments (EPA, 1990).
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- Mekone, L., and Kandel, J., 1986. Microbiology, Essentials and Applications. New York: McGraw-Hill Book.Google Scholar
- Talaro, K., and Talaro, A., 1993. Foundations in Microbiology. St. Louis: Wm. C. Brown Publishers (WCB).Google Scholar
- WKU, 2013. Physiological Requirements of Oxygen. 208 Microbiology, Section 3, Laboratory Week 11, Western Kentucky University (WKU), http://bioweb.wku.edu/courses/Biol208/Lab_Manual/208%20week%2011.pdf