Winogradsky Column: Microbial Ecology in a Bottle
This interactive module consists of a virtual Winogradsky column, which can be used to explore the diversity of microbes, microbial metabolic strategies, and geochemical gradients found in sediments.
Winogradsky columns consist of sediment and water added to a clear container. They may also contain sources of carbon and sulfur. Naturally occurring microbes establish geochemical gradients inside the column based on their metabolic strategies.
For example, microbes in the surface layer of the sediment carry out aerobic decomposition, thus consuming oxygen. Different microbes thrive in the suboxic and anoxic layers below the surface. The resulting zones can be seen with the naked eye because of variations in the colors of the microbes and the inorganic compounds they produce.
Students can use this virtual Winogradsky column in place of a lab or to learn about the processes that might be occurring in actual columns they have made.
aerobic, anaerobic, cyanobacteria, inorganic, microorganism, nutrient, organic, photosynthesis, redox (reduction-oxidation) reaction, zonation
HS-LS1.C, HS-LS2.B, HS-ESS2.A, HS-ESS2.E
2.A.2, 2.A.3, 2.C.2, 2.D.1
2.9, 4.2, 4.3, B.1