How Do Humans Use Microbes?

Microorganisms are ubiquitous. They are known to survive in extreme climatic conditions. Some microbes are bacteria, fungi, viruses, protozoans which are microscopic in nature. They have an innate ability to multiply rapidly hence it becomes very difficult to devise a medical treatment to destroy some microorganisms. Some other microbes can be easily treated with antibiotics. Not all microbes are harmful. Few microbes are extremely beneficial and form the primary source to run industries, for instance, the baking industry.

Since ages, microorganisms are being used in the production of alcohol. Yeasts are made to cultivate on natural sugars for the production of vinegar and wine brought about by the fermentation process. They are also used in the preparation of bread, cakes, pastries, and curd. Organic wastes are converted into reusable substances by the action of microbes as they help in the break down of these wastes.

A bacteria named Lactobacillus bacteria are instrumental in converting milk into curd. These bacteria facilitate the formation of curd my rapidly multiplying in milk. They are also involved in making pickles, cheese, and fermentation of batters.

For the production of antibiotics, microbes (bacteria and fungi) are a primary source. They are medicines that inhibit the growth of pathogens and are used to treat a myriad of diseases, for example – Amoxicillin, Erythromycin, etc are few antibiotics used extensively. They are also helpful to check microbial activity in animals and prevent plant diseases. To protect humans and animals, vaccines are manufactured on a large scale to treat diseases such as chickenpox, hepatitis, tuberculosis and so on.

Bacteria are known to increase the fertility of the soil by fixing nitrogen and are often referred to as biological nitrogen fixers. They aid in cleaning up our ecosystem by decomposing dead matter of animals and plants hence breaking down harmful substances.

Beneficial Microbes In The Human Body

There is a variety of microbes that exist throughout the human body and have a significant role to play in human health. In the human body, microbes are found across different parts, namely, nasal cavity, oral cavity, skin, genitals, gut and hence harbour in different habitats. The type of interaction between the host and the microbes can be commensal or mutualistic which help in the growth of humans and also form as the body’s defence mechanism. Listed below are a few locations on the human body where microbes are usually found.

Skin

There is a diversity of microbes found on the skin, which is the point of contact with the world. To say the least, there are a 1000 different species of microbes that live on the skin such as fungi, viruses, bacteria, etc and most of these are harmless to the human host. Symbiotic microbes harbour on a wide range of the human skin recesses thereby protecting against invasion by pathogens and hence are helpful bacteria. One such example is Bacillus subtilis that produces a toxic poison called bacitracin on the skin that fights against microbes. Few other colonizers are Staphylococcus epidermidis, species of Corynebacterium, Brevibacterium.

Human Gut

The human intestine harbours a huge population of microbes that help in bringing about digestion and shield against pathogens. There are differences in the microbial colonization acquired by infants, attributed to the mode of their delivery which could either be through the vagina or through caesarian section. Differences are also observed in the gut microbiota of infants that are breastfed or formula-fed. Microbiota tends to become diverse with the appearance of the supremacy of Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes that resemble the adult microbiota.

Take this quiz

Q.1. Is it harmful to have trillions of microbes living in our body?
A.1. Yes, it is perfectly healthy.

Q.2. Does everyone have the same microbes?
A.2. No. As per research, your microbiome depends upon who you have been around(family), your diet an much more.

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Practice This Question

The function of vas deferens is to carry sperms from the _____ to the ______ .
kidney, urethra
epididymis, urethra
ovary, uterus
kidney, urinary bladder

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