Q:

What Do Bacteria Eat?

A:

Quick Answer

Bacteria feed on materials as varied as soybean oil, sugar, starch, sulfur, amino acids, iron, milk, meat and even wood compounds. Some types of bacteria are photosynthetic, making their own food from sunlight. Others absorb nutrition from the surface where they live.

Continue Reading
What Do Bacteria Eat?
Credit: NIAID CC-BY-2.0

Full Answer

Bacteria exist as a single cell and there are thousands of species. The diet of bacteria is generally determined by their metabolic category. The categories are broad but loosely fall into one of three groups: lithotrophs, organotrophs or phototrophs. Lithotrophic bacteria consume inorganic material, while organotrophic bacteria get their energy from organic compounds. The process of bacteria breaking down food to get energy is called respiration. Phototrophic bacteria get their energy directly from the sun. Some bacteria feed on decaying matter and help break down environmental waste. Others get their food by breaking down chemicals in their surrounding environments. Some even consume harmful products such as oil, arsenic and nuclear waste. Bacteria do not consume food through chewing or swallowing in a mouth the way that other living organisms consume food. Instead, they absorb nutrients through channels in the walls of membranes and cells. Bacteria can feed alone or in groups that cluster together, forming chains, squares or various pairs.

Learn more about Zoology
Related Videos

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What Do Arachnids Eat?

    A: Arachnids are mostly carnivorous predators and usually feed on smaller arthropods, with the exception of daddy longlegs and some mites that feed on plant m... Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What Animals Eat Algae?

    A: Animals that consume algae include fish, salamanders, newts, frogs and bacteria. Algae, a type of aquatic plant, provides food and nutrition for many creat... Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What Do Rhinos Eat?

    A: Rhinoceroses are herbivorous mammals, meaning they do not consume meat but subsist on plant matter only. They tend to eat whatever vegetation is available ... Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What Do Carnivores Eat?

    A: Carnivores are animals that are adapted to eating only meat. They are either predators that hunt and kill their own prey, or scavengers that search for alr... Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore