Think about all life on Earth. Do all the organisms breathe like we do? You might be thinking that they don't. For example, fungus doesn't have lungs with which to breathe. But in actuality, the presence of lungs is not the determining factor here. In fact, fungi do breathe in their own way, because they take in oxygen and use it to create energy to live. And many other organisms that you might not expect breathe in their own ways.

Organisms that require oxygen to make energy and to survive are called aerobic organisms, or aerobes. It's important to note that not all organisms are aerobes. Some animals are anaerobic, which means they can create energy without the presence of oxygen, but that's for another lesson. The reason aerobes need oxygen is to make energy. They do this through a process called cellular respiration, in which they take glucose (sugar) and oxygen to make energy, also known as adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, and carbon dioxide. Now that we know what an aerobe is, let's look at some examples of aerobic organisms from each major category of living things: animals, plants, fungi and bacteria.

Examples of Aerobic bacteria

1. Bacillus

The genus Bacillus encompasses both obligate and facultative types of bacterial species. They include free living or pathogenic strains. For example, B. subtilis is a free-living soil bacterium, while B. anthrax infection causes anthrax disease. Ubiquitous in habit and having a large-sized genome, various species of Bacillus are commercially used for enzyme production and genetic researches.

1) Bacillus Cereus

  • Diarrheal: Watery diarrhea and abdominal cramps

  • Emetic (vomiting): Nausea and vomiting

2) Bacillus Anthrax

  • Nausea

  • Loss of appetite

  • Fever

  • Swelling in the neck

  • Bloody diarrhea severe abdominal pain

3) Bacillus Thuringiensis

  • Eye and skin irritation


2. Mycobacterium

As the name suggests, it is a species of pathogenic bacteria that cause tuberculosis. It is a rod shaped, obligate aerobic bacteria, characterized by the presence of a waxy layer on the wall. Being an oxygen-needing species, M. tuberculosis infects the lungs of mammalians, where oxygen is present in very high amounts. It divides at a very slow rate, after about 15 hours of infection.


1. Coughing that lasts
    three or more weeks

2. Coughing up blood

3. Chest pain, or pain
    with breathing or coughing

4. Unintentional weight loss

5. Fatigue

6. Fever

7. Night sweats

8. Loss of appetite

3. Nocardia

Rod-shaped and gram positive type, the genus nocardia comprises more than 80 species. Out of these, some are capable of causing health conditions, while others are non-pathogenic. The disease caused by infection of nocardia is called nocardiosis, affecting only the lungs or the whole body. Usually, nocardia thrives in the oral cavity, mostly in the gums and periodontal pockets.

1) Lungs

  • Chest pain when breathing (may occur suddenly or slowly)

  • Coughing up blood

  • Fevers

  • Night sweats

  • Weight loss

2) Brain

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Seizures

  • Coma

3) Skin

  • Skin breakdown and a draining tract (fistula)

  • Ulcers or nodules with infection sometimes spreading along lymph nodes

4. Lactobacillus

Lactobacillus is not a true aerobic bacteria, but it is included in the facultative type. You might have already heard about the application of this bacterium in curdling and fermentation of food items. It is normally found in the oral cavity and intestines without causing any symptoms. Rather, some Lactobacillus species are beneficial for health and classified as probiotic flora.


1. Vaginal burning, itching

2. Clear or white discharge

3. Pelvic pain on the left side which is sharp, stabbing

4. Increased urination with the pelvic pain

5. Pelvic pain is worse during the night, on waking in the morning, and with running

6. Symptoms seemed better with using Monistat and Epsom salt baths

7. Some swelling and redness of vulva

5. Pseudomonas

A gram-negative, rod shaped, obligate bacterium that causes diseases in humans and animals. It attacks people with a weak immune system. It is found everywhere in the environment. Infections caused by this bacterium are characterized by inflammations. If this infection occurs in the lungs or other vital organs, it can prove to be fatal. Diseases caused by it are pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and gastrointestinal infections.


1. Fever and chills.

2. Body aches.

3. Light-headedness.

4. Rapid pulse and breathing.

5. Nausea and vomiting.

6. Diarrhea.

7. Decreased urination.

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