General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

Is solid or dry respiration possible?

Asked by Ltryptophan (9109 points ) January 29th, 2012

Fish use water. Mammals air. Could a dry respiration occur?

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5 Answers

thorninmud's avatar

There is a bacterium, Shewanella oneidensis that is able to get the oxygen it needs from solid iron oxide (aka rust).

Ltryptophan's avatar

@thorninmud what a cool link… thanks for the GA.

shamwownella…is more like it.

JaneraSolomon's avatar

Deep sea metazoans by hydrothermal vents are in seawater, but don’t get oxygen from it. “Metazoan metabolic energy is produced via the release and
transfer of electrons from reduced-carbon electron donor molecules
to more oxidized electron acceptors. In aerobic metabolism, the
electron acceptor is oxygen; in metazoan anaerobic metabolism, the
electron acceptor is an organic molecule such as lactate or fumarate.”
http://asgsb.indstate.edu/bulletins/v13n2/vol13n2p13-24.pdf

PhiNotPi's avatar

When a complex organism uses something as respiration, a few things are needed:

0. The ability of the reaction to produce energy
1. A way for individual molecules of the food (sugar, oxygen in humans) to be transported
2. A way for your body to absorb individual molecules from the source into the body
3. A way for individual molecules of the waste (CO2, water in humans) to be transported
4. A way for your body to get rid of these waste molecules completely

The biggest problem is #4. If life was made of silicon instead of carbon, CO2 would turn into SiO2, a solid rock that doesn’t tend to dissolve or bond with anything, but does tend to crystallize. If such an organism existed, it would have to find a way of secreting this without coating itself in a layer of solid rock.

Regarding the original question, I suppose it is possible for an animal to get all necessary food chemicals from solids, since humans already get one, sugar. It would be much more difficult if the waste was a solid.

Ron_C's avatar

@thorninmud pretty cool about the bacteria. Does that mean I could use them as rust remover?

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