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Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, are microscopic organisms that occur in most inland waters. They are among the earliest organisms on Earth and produce oxygen during photosynthesis. 

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Heterotrophic bacteria cannot perform photosynthesis. Thus, they get their energy, electrons, and carbon from dead organic material.

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Iron oxidizing bacteria, as its name suggests, use the oxidation of iron compounds as their primary energy source. These microbes produce a rust color.  

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Purple non-sulfur bacteria were originally named as “non-sulfur” because it was thought they could not use hydrogen sulfide. However, it was discovered that they can in low concentrations.

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Purple sulfur bacteria are photosynthetic microbes that produce sulfur from hydrogen sulfide. 

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Similar to purple sulfur bacteria, green sulfur bacteria use hydrogen sulfide and undergo photosynthesis to produce sulfur and other organic compounds.

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Purple sulfur bacteria are photosynthetic microbes that produce sulfur from hydrogen sulfide. 

Sulfate reducing bacteria produce hydrogen sulfide (i.e. Desulfovibrio). The activity of Desulfovibrio creates a gradient of hydrogen sulfide in the column with low hydrogen sulfide levels at the top and high hydrogen sulfide levels at the bottom.

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In the 1880s, Sergei Winogradsky invented the Winogradsky column to study an ecosystem’s diverse group of microorganisms.