What are Microbes?
Microbes are also called as the microorganisms. They are the major components of biological systems on the planet earth, which are present everywhere, around us, in the soil, water, air, and both in and on our body. They are also found in other animals and plants. These organisms are so minute and vary in their size and shapes, which cannot be seen by our naked eyes. They can only be seen through the microscope, therefore, they are also referred to as the microscopic organisms. The different types of microbes are:
Industrial microbiology is a branch of biotechnology and microbiology, which mainly deals with the study of various microorganisms and its applications in industrial processes.
In large-scale industrial processes, microbes are widely used to synthesize a number of products valuable to human beings. There are numerous industrial products that are derived from microbes such as:
- Food additives.
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
- Biofuels, metabolites, and biofertilizers.
- Few Chemicals, Enzymes and other Bioactive Molecules.
- Vaccines and other Antibiotics to kill or retard the growth of disease-causing microbes.
Let us know in detail about the role of microbes in industrial products.
Microbes in Industrial Products
These microbes play a crucial role in the fermentation process to obtain a number of products. The two common products obtained by fermentation process through industrial processes are fermented beverages, malted cereals, broths, fruit juices, antibiotics, etc.
Yeasts are the widely used microorganism for the production of beverages like beer, brandy, rum, wine, whiskey, etc. Yeasts are single-celled, eukaryotic, microorganisms of the Kingdom Fungi. In these industrial process, the species of yeasts, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, generally called as the Brewer’s Yeasts are used for fermenting fruit juices and malted cereals to produce ethanol. Once after the fermentation, these beverages are distilled to produce both Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages including whiskey, brandy, rum, etc.
Microbes are also used for the industrial production of certain organic acids. Citric acid was the first discovered organic acids from microbial fermentation of lemon – a citrus fruits. Organic acids are also produced directly from glucose. Aspergillus Niger, Acetobacter acute and Lactobacillus are few examples of microbes used for the industrial production of organic acids.
Enzymes are naturally occurring, biological catalysts that are mainly used to control certain biochemical reactions in the living system. Enzymes have a wide range of applications in the production of both medical and non-medical field. Apart from the plants and animals, enzymes are also obtained from certain microbes and are referred to as the microbial enzymes. Microorganisms are majorly used for the production of industrial enzymes through the safe gene transfer methods. The first industrially produced microbial enzymes were obtained from the fungal amylase in the year 1896 and were used to cure indigestion and several other digestive disorders.
Antibiotics are chemical substances produced by certain microbes which functions either by killing or retarding the growth of harmful microbes without affecting the host cells. Penicillin was the first antibiotic to be discovered by Alexander Fleming in the year 1928 from the fungus Penicilliumnotatum. There are many other antibiotics produced by microorganisms, including Streptomycin, and other antibiotics used to treat a number of bacterial infections.
Vitamins are organic compounds which are capable of performing many life-sustaining functions inside our body. They are essential micronutrients which are required in small quantities for the body’s metabolism. As our body cannot be synthesized these vitamins, they need to be supplied through the diet. Apart from plants and animals sources, microbes are also capable of synthesizing the vitamins. There are few groups of microbes living in the digestive tracts of both humans and other animals which are collectively called as the gut microbiota. These microbes are involved in synthesizing vitamin K. Other examples of microbial vitamins include ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, biotin, ergosterol, folic acid, vitamin b12, Thiamine, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and pyridoxine.
These were a few information related to the role of microbes in industrial products. Apart from these products, microbes are also used in the production of biofuel, vaccines, protein and other hormonal supplements to treat malnutrition and other deficiency diseases in both humans and animals.
Important Questions on Microbes:
- Name the bacterium which is used in curdling of milk.
- Which types of microbes are used to produce penicillin antibiotic?
The penicillin antibiotic is obtained from the fungus – Penicillium notatum.
- Name a bacterium that produces acetic and butyric acid.
Acetic Acid is produced by the bacterium Acetobacter aceti and butyric acid are produced by the bacterium Clostridium butylicum.
- Name a bacterium that is present in the root nodules and fix atmospheric nitrogen.
Rhizobium are Gram-negative soil bacteria that fix nitrogen and helps plants to observe atmospheric nitrogen.
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