We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Anaerobe?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
All The Science is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All The Science, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An anaerobe is an organism which is capable of thriving in an environment without oxygen, and in some cases may actually need an environment with limited or no oxygen to live. Many anaerobes are microorganisms, but some larger organisms are also anaerobic, such as the massive tubeworms found near hydrothermal vents. Anaerobes are of interest to humans for a number of reasons, not least of which is that some can cause infections and disease when ingested by humans.

A true anaerobe is known as “obligate,” because it needs an environment without oxygen, and it cannot survive in areas with atmospheric oxygen. Facultative anaerobes, on the other hand, can live in areas with varying levels of oxygen, taking advantage of changing conditions. Other types of anaerobes have oxygen requirements which differ from the norm, such as microaerophilic organisms, which need low levels of oxygen to live.

Some of these organisms use fermentation to gather energy, while others may utilize anaerobic respiration, in which gas exchange takes place with gases other than oxygen. In the case of facultative anaerobes, either anerobic or conventional respiration can take place, depending on the environment where the organism is living.

Scientists can isolate aerobic organisms from anaerobic organisms with the use of a liquid culture. The aerobic organisms will cluster near the surface of the culture so that they can access oxygen, while the obligate anaerobes will settle to the bottom. Facultative, microaerophilic, and related organisms will distribute themselves across the middle of the culture to find the oxygen saturation levels they require.

Being able to live in water does not necessarily make an organism an anaerobe, although water is a liquid. In fact, water is quite high in dissolved oxygen, and as a result, most organisms which live in water require oxygen to live, although they access oxygen differently than surface dwelling organisms do. Fish, for example, perform gas exchange with their gills, pumping water through the gills and capturing the dissolved oxygen as it passes by.

In some cases, an anaerobe can cause disease in humans. Botulinum toxin, for example, is created by anaerobic bacteria which can live in canned food which has become contaminated. Other anaerobes can actually be beneficial, as in the case of organisms which ferment milk to create yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products. Fermentation is also the key to the production of wine and beer. An anaerobe can also be utilized in the production of a wide assortment of chemicals and other useful products, with the use of a bioreactor in which a controlled environment which is friendly to the organism can be maintained.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a All The Science researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.