|MadSci Network: Environment/Ecology|
Beethoven, Brahms, and Bach. They used to be composers, but by the beginning of the 20TH century, they had all become decomposers. :)
With a billion organisms and ten thousand different species in a gram of soil, your question is like asking me to name three people that live in the United States--I can easily come up with an answer, but never a complete answer. I can, however name three rather large groups of decomposer organisms and direct you to a pretty cool web site.
Bacterial decomposers are grouped by the temperature ranges in which they work the best. Psychrophilic bacteria are a group of bacteria species that work in the lowest temperature range (-20-13°C, 0°-55°F). Mesophilic bacteria (0-40°C, 32-104°F) predominate in nature, and are responsible for most of the decomposition. Thermophilic bacteria are more active in concentrated waste piles where the heat can get up above 40°C (104°F).
Fungi are important because they break down tough debris, enabling bacteria to continue the decomposition process once most of the cellulose has been exhausted. They spread and grow vigorously by producing many cells and filaments, and they can attack organic residues that are too dry or acidic for bacterial decomposition.
Actinomycetes are the primary decomposers of tough plant tissues like bark, paper and stems. They are especially effective at softening up tough materials, such as cellulose, chitin, and lignin.
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Environment/Ecology.