Nature is beautiful and is packed with a variety of species and organisms. Microorganisms are one among them. Microorganisms include those organisms which are too tiny to be observed by naked eyes. They may be either unicellular or multicellular. They can be beneficial, harmless or disease causing pathogen. Harmless and useful microbes are more in number than the dangerous ones. The elemental cycles taking place in the environment are highlighting examples of the beneficial role of microorganism. More instances on useful microorganisms are discussed below.
The environment is incomplete without microorganisms. They are a crucial part of the ecosystem and take part in activities like production of minerals like nitrogen, gases like oxygen, carbon dioxide, cleaning by action on dead matters etc. In various industries, microbes are used intentionally due to their role in human welfare.
Food Industry and Beverages
The role of microorganisms in food preparation and beverage manufacturing is known for ages. They are used in the manufacture of bread, curd, wine and alcohol etc. Lacto bacillus bacteria are responsible for the curd formation. They multiply and convert milk into curd. Another example is Yeast which is used commercially for alcohol and wine production. The process is called fermentation. Yeast is also used in baking industries for the preparations of bread and cakes.
Bacteria are not only outside the human body, they live inside the body. Bacteria which persist in the digestive system are collectively known as microflora. They support the process of digestion by releasing certain enzymes. They live in symbiotic association with a human. Other tasks of microflora are vitamin K production and thus help in blood clotting. They also prevent the invasion of the body by other fatal microbes.
Antibiotics are well-known examples of the role of microbes in the medical field. Antibiotics are obtained from microorganisms i.e. one strain of bacteria or fungi is used against another strain. Recently many drugs for a variety of diseases are obtained from microorganisms.
Another example for this is vaccines. Vaccines are partially killed or weakened microorganisms used to produce antibodies against an antigen (foreign particles) entering the body.
In the environment, microorganisms have two vital roles- one is an enhancement of soil fertility another is cleaning. Nitrogen fixing bacteria such as Rhizobium, Azotobacter etc. nourish soil with a mineral like nitrogen. As cleaners, they decompose the dead and organic matter and result in the decay of toxic substances.
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