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. 

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

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