Microbes in Industrial products

Microbes are also called 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 bodies. 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:

  • Algae

  • Bacteria

  • Fungi

  • Protozoa

  • Virus.

The study of various microorganisms and its applications in industrial processes is known as the branch of Biotechnology and Microbiology in Industrial Microbiology. 

In large-scale industrial processes, microbes are widely used to synthesize a number of products valuable to human beings. There are many industrial products that are arise 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.

Role of Microbes in Industrial Products

These microbes play a crucial role in the fermentation process to obtain a number of products. Fruit juices, malted cereals, fermented beverages and some of the antibiotics are the products that are obtained by fermentation through industrial processes. 

  • Beverages

For the production of beverages like beer, brandy, rum, wine, whiskey, etc, yeasts are the widely used microorganisms. Yeasts are single-celled, eukaryotic, microorganisms of the Kingdom Fungi. In this industrial process, the species of yeasts, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, generally called 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.

  • Organic Acids

Certain organic acids are also produced by the use of microbes. The first discovered organic acid was Citric Acid that was from microbial fermentation of lemon. Some examples of organic acids that are produced from glucose are - Aspergillus Niger, Acetobacter acute and Lactobacillus 

  • Enzymes

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 fields. Apart from the plants and animals, enzymes are also obtained from certain microbes and are referred to as the microbial enzymes. Microorganisms are mainly used for the production of industrial enzymes by using 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.

  • Antibiotic

Antibiotics are chemical substances produced by certain microbes which function 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 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

Vitamins are organic compounds that are capable of performing many life-sustaining functions inside our bodies. They are essential micronutrients which are required in small quantities for the body’s metabolism. As our body cannot synthesize 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 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.

Role of microbes in industrial products was a less talked topic. 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.

Quick facts on Microbes

  1. The bacterium which is used in curdling milk is called Lactobacillus bacteria.

  2. Acetic Acid is produced by the bacterium  Acetobacter acetic and butyric acid are produced by the bacterium Clostridium butylicum.

  3. The penicillin antibiotic is obtained from the fungus – Penicillium notatum.

  4. Rhizobium is Gram-negative soil bacteria that fix nitrogen and helps plants to observe atmospheric nitrogen.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are Microbes?

Ans - Microbes are also called 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 bodies. 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.

2. How many types of Microbes are there? Name them

Ans - There are four types of Microbes, namely - Algae

  • Bacteria

  • Fungi

  • Protozoa

  • Virus.

3. What are Enzymes?

Ans - 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 fields. Apart from the plants and animals, enzymes are also obtained from certain microbes and are referred to as the microbial enzymes.

4.Define Antibiotics

Ans - Antibiotics are chemical substances produced by certain microbes which function either by killing or retarding the growth of harmful microbes without affecting the host cells.

5. Name the first Antibiotic that was discovered and by whom?

Ans - Penicillin was the first antibiotic to be discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928 from the fungus Penicilliumnotatum.