MadSci Network: Cell Biology

Re: Are there any living organisms that do not breathe?

Date: Fri Jun 30 19:35:16 2000
Posted By: Sarah Tegen, Grad student, Molecular and Cell Biology, UC-Berkeley
Area of science: Cell Biology
ID: 961717551.Cb

First part:  In addition to taking CO2 out of the air, and making O2 from 
it, plants also require O2 for respiration, just like us.

I think the question you are asking is (partially) about the difference 
between respiration (the use of O2 as the final electron acceptor in the 
electron transport chain in making energy), and breathing, in the 
conventional sense.

All organisms respire.  Some just do it differently from others.  For 
instance, there are any number of anaerobes--those organisms which don't 
require O2 to survive--in this class.  Some examples of this include the 
bacteria which poplulate our intestines (some of which can also live in the 
air, like E. coli).  Yeast can also survive anaerobically.  This occurs 
during fermentation, in making beer and wine.  In this process the yeast 
make alcohol as the final product of respiration.

There are also other 'weird' organisms out there that don't use oxygen, 
though they tend to populate extremely harsh environments.  There are 
bacteria which live near the deep sea thermal vents that use hydrogen 
sulfide instead of oxygen for energy production.

These first two URLs talk about the electron transport chain

And these talk about some of those 'weird' organisms.

Good luck!
-Sarah Tegen

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