Autotrophs are organisms that generate their own food. For example, cyanobacteria and plants. These organisms for the foundation of all living systems. Light is harvested from the sun and the energy from the light is stored into the chemical energy of sugars like glucose. Glucose and other sources of stored energy provide energy for the living processes of heterotrophs. Heterotrophs are living beings that are not capable of generating their own food. For example, most bacteria, animals, and fungi. Two distinct heterotrophs are bacteria and fungi. A subset of bacteria and fungi decompose matter from dead and dying living beings. These organisms are decomposers. Decomposers degrade natural waste, dead matter, and recycle elements from complex living matter. They recycle raw materials for life such as inorganics, carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and oxygen. Decomposers live in a myriad of different habitats but the principles of their lives are similar, decompose complex matter into simpler fragments and reconstruct complex matter with the help of other life forms. We will select two specific environments to profile. Two kinds of bacteria and fungi will be profiled in the lesson, gut bacteria and fungi that degrade carbon, respectively.
The first of these organisms are certain kinds of bacteria that live in the gut of humans. In the lesson we will review the function of bacteria that help human beings break down food and generate easily digestible nutrients. In the lesson we will review the function of certain strains of gut bacteria. We will film a series of videos with Faruq’s processes for food preservation to document how the preservation technique stores food nutrition and creates usable life energy. Also, we will focus on solutions to how to innovate in food storage and food preparation for sustainable living. If you notice in the leaf chromatogram attached below, you can see different nutrients in leaves that are able to be absorbed if they are appropriately digested. Many of the future innovations in sustainable living will come from understand the bread and depth of nutrient cycling in simple laboratories in the course. We will conduction a nutrient chromatography experiment with the students to teach about this aspect of decomposer life in the gut of humans.
The second of these organisms are certain strains of fungi that degrade carbon from plants such as cellulose. In this section of the lesson we will review how cellulose degrading fungi can be used to grown better plants. We will focus on compost tea, aquaponics and fungi, and crop growth. The best way to approach this part of the lesson is to understand on the whiteboard the dynamics of carbon and nitrogen cycling. In the figure below, we will talk about nitrogen cycling signalling in bacterial cells.
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