Problems in studying microbial ecology.
- Department of Microbiology, Medical School, University of Otago
Often the macrobial ecologist is surprised and a little annoyed when a microbial ecologist refuses or is reluctant to take part in a general ecological survey. The reason is not that microbial ecologists are uncooperative, but rather they are faced with problems that tend to discourage co-operation. Whether interested in autecology, synecology, or habitat ecology (Alexander 1971) the problems tend to be the same and often seem insurmountable.
The over-riding difficulty is that the microbial ecologist cannot see the organisms he has to study. He is interested in those organisms which belong to the protists and include viruses, bacteria, bluegreen algae, the fungi, the smaller green algae and protozoa, all of which must be viewed using a lens system if one is to see individual cells and their structure. Their small size affects attempts to estimate the numbers present, to identify the organisms, and to study their distribution and metabolism.