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Wetlands: Species--Microorganisms
Microorganisms are the smallest, most basic lifeforms to inhabit wetlands. They range from single-celled organisms to colonies of single cells. Although many are invisible to the naked eye, microorganisms perform a variety of important roles in wetlands. One of these roles is that of primary producer. Many of these microorganisms, such as blue-green algae, trap and store sunlight in the form of chemical energy. All organisms need energy in order to live, but most are incapable of directly using energy from the sun. They rely on the blue-green algae as food and an indirect source of solar energy. Another role of microorganisms is that of decomposer. Some microorganisms recycle nutrients by breaking down dead organic material into its simpler elements; this is a large part of the decaying process. 

Common types of wetland microorganisms include:

Image of an amoeba.protists organisms that are single-celled and eukaryotic (which means that their genetic material is contained in a nucleus); for example, plankton, algae, and amoebas. Photo: Amoeba. Photo courtesy of Frank Dazzo, Center for Microbial Ecology, MSU.

bacteria organisms that are single-celled and prokaryotic (which means that their genetic material is not contained in a nucleus); for example, anabaena and gleocapsa.

Visit the Microbe Zoo for more images and information on some of these wetlands microorganisms.

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