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Microbes in Extreme Environments

Various abiotic factors strongly influence the ecological distribution and functioning of a microbial population. Nutritional constraints and environmental tolerance regulate or exclude the existence of microorganisms in a variable environment according to “Liebig’s Law of Minimum” and “Shelford’s Law of Tolerance” respectively.
fig: symbolic photo for extremity (source: google)
Liebig’s Law of Minimum
Liebig, a German agricultural chemist, recognized that like atoms in a molecule, elements in living organisms are present in distinct proportion. According to him, the total yield or biomass of any organisms will be determined by the nutrient present in a minimum concentration in relation to the other requirements of that organisms.
Shelford’s Law of Tolerance
The occurrence and abundance of organisms in the environment are determined not only by nutrients but also by various physiological factors such as temperature, pH, salinity and many others. Shelford’s law says that there are many environmental factors and boundaries of those environmental factors govern the survival of the organisms. For an organism to succeed in a given environment, each of these conditions must remain within the tolerance range of that organism. If any conditions such as temperature exceed the minimum or maximum tolerance, the organism will fail to thrive and will be eliminated. Tolerance range for a given organism for a given parameter is, however, somewhat interactive with other parameters. Thus a microorganism that is not able to survive at a particular temperature in an ecosystem with a particular H+ concentration.

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