It seems we only found bacteria that hate oxygen. Are there any bacteria that love oxygen and would thrive in high oxygen environment?

If it slowed down or stop multiplying in low (as in normal earth atmosphere) oxygen content it would be the best.

  • $\begingroup$ Acetic acid bacteria need oxygen to turn alcohol into vinegar. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 1:00
  • $\begingroup$ There are anaerobic bacteria and aerobic bacteria. Aerobic bacteria include: Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Tuberculosis), E. Coli (common model organism), and Staphylococcus auerus (that new superbug) $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 17:56

3 Answers 3


Are there any bacteria that love oxygen and would thrive in high oxygen environment?

Yes, the obligate aerobes.

Regarding the influence of oxygen on growth, we classify bacteria in 5 main groups (Tortora, Funke and Case, 2015):

  • Obligate Aerobes
  • Facultative Anaerobes
  • Obligate Anaerobes
  • Aerotolerant Anaerobes
  • Microaerophiles

This image (also from ) gives us a good summary:

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As its text says:

Obligate aerobes: Growth occurs only where high concentrations of oxygen have diffused into the medium.

Regarding your second question ("If it slowed down or stop multiplying in low - as in normal earth atmosphere - oxygen content it would be the best"), I'm afraid that there is no such organism. If I understand the question correctly, you're trying to make a comparison with hyperthermophiles, for instance: a bacterium that survives in extremely high O2 concentrations but that dies (or don't grow adequately) in normal O2 concentration. The problem is that, except for very specific and small microenvironments, like a leaf's aerenchyma, there is no place with those higher O2 concentrations in which such bacteria could evolve.

Source: Tortora, G., Funke, B. and Case, C. (2015). Microbiology. Harlow, United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.


It's not true that all bacteria hate oxygen. Actually, there are some obligately aerobic bacteria that need oxygen to carry out cellular respiration. A notorious example of this type of bacteria is Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a pathogenic species that infects lungs and cause tuberculosis. Because it's obligately aerobic, in the classic case of tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis growths are always found in the well-aerated upper lobes of the lungs where the oxygen requirement is satisfied.

Reference: 1. Levinson, W. (2010). Review of Medical Microbiology and Immunology (11th ed.). McGraw-Hill. pp. 150–157. ISBN 978-0-07-174268-9.

  • $\begingroup$ To improve the answer quality I suggest to add references to your claims $\endgroup$
    – have fun
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 8:54
  • $\begingroup$ @havefun thanks for your opinion, will add it soon. $\endgroup$
    – Macrophage
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ I am thinking along the lines of "rapidly duplicating itself in high oxygen environment like those bugs in 'The day the earth stopped'." $\endgroup$
    – user39178
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 19:39

Species that require oxygen to survive can be classified into 3 groups(in bold). Their distinctions are also explained:

Microbes that use oxygen for energy-yielding purposes are called aerobes, if they require oxygen for their metabolism they are called obligate aerobes. Obligate aerobes are at a disadvantage because oxygen is poorly soluble in water and much of the environment is lacking in this necessary element. Often, aerobic bacteria have retained the ability to grow without oxygen; these are called facultative anaerobes. Those bacteria that are unable to use oxygen and in fact may be harmed by it are known as obligate anaerobes. Further groups include: the microaerophiles which are aerobic microbes that tolerate only a narrow band of oxygen concentrations usually lower than that of the atmosphere and are therefore often difficult to cultivate in the laboratory, and aerotolerant bacteria that grow in the presence of oxygen but do not require it. (Here)


  1. Obligate aerobes:Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Nocardia asteroides
  2. Microaerophiles:Campylobacter species and Helicobacter pylori
  3. Aerotolerant anaerobe(anaerobe because they grow in the lack of oxygen) : Streptococcus mutans

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