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Biology LibreTexts

7: Microbial Metabolism

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    • 7.1: Energy, Matter, and Enzymes
      Cellular processes such as the building or breaking down of complex molecules occur through series of stepwise, interconnected chemical reactions called metabolic pathways. The term anabolism refers to those endergonic metabolic pathways involved in biosynthesis, converting simple molecular building blocks into more complex molecules, and fueled by the use of cellular energy.
    • 7.2: Catabolism of Carbohydrates
      Glycolysis is the first step in the breakdown of glucose, resulting in the formation of ATP, which is produced by substrate-level phosphorylation; NADH; and two pyruvate molecules. Glycolysis does not use oxygen and is not oxygen dependent. After glycolysis, a three-carbon pyruvate is decarboxylated to form a two-carbon acetyl group, coupled with the formation of NADH. The acetyl group is attached to a large carrier compound called coenzyme A.
    • 7.3: Alternate Forms of Catabolism: Fermentation, Lipids and Proteins
      Collectively, microbes have the ability to degrade a wide variety of carbon sources besides carbohydrates, including lipids and proteins. The catabolic pathways for all of these molecules eventually connect into glycolysis and the Krebs cycle. Several types of lipids can be microbially degraded. Triglycerides are degraded by extracellular lipases, releasing fatty acids from the glycerol backbone. Phospholipids are degraded by phospholipases, releasing fatty acids and phosphorylated head groups.
    • 7.4: Photosynthesis and the Importance of Light
      Heterotrophic organisms ranging from E. coli to humans rely on the chemical energy found mainly in carbohydrate molecules. Many of these carbohydrates are produced by photosynthesis, the biochemical process by which phototrophic organisms convert solar energy (sunlight) into chemical energy. Although photosynthesis is most commonly associated with plants, microbial photosynthesis is also a significant supplier of chemical energy, fueling many diverse ecosystems.

    Thumbnail: The Krebs cycle, also known as the citric acid cycle, is summarized here. Note incoming two-carbon acetyl results in the main outputs per turn of two CO2, three NADH, one FADH2, and one ATP (or GTP) molecules made by substrate-level phosphorylation. Two turns of the Krebs cycle are required to process all of the carbon from one glucose molecule.