Decomposers are important because they are crucial for the proper functioning of ecosystems. They recycle the minerals found in dead plants and animals back into the food chain. Ecosystems do not waste energy or materials, and as such, the decomposers capitalize on any remaining energy in a dead organism and make the minerals available to the entire biome.
Without the actions of decomposers, ecosystems would quickly grind to a halt. The green plants, which start the food chain, are unable to grow without nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. These minerals are released into the environment when decomposers digest their food.
Most decomposers are bacteria. However, many other types of decomposers do exist, including earthworms, protozoans, fungi and millipedes. Earthworms, for example, crawl through leaf litter and soil eating the remains of dead leaves and other organic matter. The earthworms catabolize the energy-rich molecules and excrete the inorganic compounds. In this way, earthworms essentially produce soil.
Fungi are very important decomposers as well. Many grow in wounded, sick or dying trees. Fungi normally exist as tiny filaments that largely remain out of sight in the soil or within the wood of a tree. However, at certain times, the filaments produce a reproductive structure, known as a mushroom. Sometimes, these mushrooms are visible growing from the soil or out of the wood of a decaying tree.Learn More
The organelles that contain digestive enzymes are called lysosomes. These cellular structures primarily function for the breakdown of complex molecular substances, such as carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids.Full Answer >
Nucleotides are the monomer of DNA. They are made of a 5-carbon sugar (deoxyribose), a phosphate group, and a nitrogenous base bound to the sugar. The four different types of nucleotides are adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cytosine (C).Full Answer >
Speciation, commonly known as macroevolution, is supported by several lines of evidence, including direct observation, genetic mapping and the fossil record. Several populations have been observed in the act of splitting into new species. Comparison of genomic sequences between species are most easily explained as a result of recent common ancestry and an extensive fossil record has yielded numerous transitional fossils.Full Answer >
Genetic variation is important to evolution because it helps to maintain the health of a population by constituting alleles that may be useful in overcoming stresses such as diseases and pests. Without genetic variation, some of the fundamental mechanisms of evolutionary changes would not operate.Full Answer >