Uses and Effects of Microbes in Industry

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Microbes
Whole Wheat Flour and Yeast, Kneading Bread.

Microbes are like stars, found everywhere.

Microbes in Industry

There has been an increasing interest in using microbes to produce valuable products from renewable resources in recent years. Microorganisms are attractive because they can be grown on inexpensive substrates with high yields. In addition, many organisms have evolved complex metabolic pathways which allow them to utilize simple carbon sources into more valuable compounds. However, most industrial processes still rely heavily upon petrochemical feedstocks.

Use of Microbes Industry

Metabolite Production

Ethanol has been produced commercially since 1892 when it was first made using yeast cells. It’s now one of the most commonly manufactured organic compounds on Earth. Ethanol is an important chemical because it’s flammable and highly soluble in water, and it dissolves so quickly that you could drink it if you wanted to! The alcohol content of wine ranges between 12% and 15%, and beer contains about 5%, while spirits have around 8%.

Metal Leaching and Protection

Bioleaching uses microorganisms to remove heavy metals from contaminated soils and sediments. The most commonly used species are Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans and Sulfate-reducing Bacteria like Desulforhabdus spp., Geothrix fermentans, Metallosphaera yellowstonensis, and Thiobacillus thioparus. These microbes use sulfur compounds to oxidize sulfide minerals into elemental sulfur, releasing them into the solution.

Microbial Bio-Fertilizers

In agriculture, microbial fertilizers have increased plant yields and improved nutrient uptake. The most commonly studied microbe is Azotobacter chroococcum, an anaerobic bacterium found naturally on decaying leaves. A. chroococcum produces nitrogen compounds that stimulate root development and enhance plant health. Other beneficial microbes include Bacillus subtilis, Pseudomonas putida, Rhizobia sp., Trichoderma harzianum, Streptomyces.

Restriction Enzymes

Aspergillus niger produces citric acid through the action of two different enzyme systems. One system involves glucose oxidation via glycolysis, while another utilizes pyruvate decarboxylation. Both pathways result in oxaloacetate, which is converted to malic acid. Malic acid is further oxidized to form lactic acid, resulting in carbon dioxide gas accumulation.

Antimicrobial Agents

The use of antimicrobials has been an essential part of modern medicine since ancient times. However, it became more popular during World War II when penicillin was introduced into clinical practice. Since then, there has been a continuous increase in the demand for new drugs against infectious diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, and helminths. This led to the development of many novel classes of antimicrobial agents over time.

What are the Disadvantages of microorganisms?

1. The use of microorganisms is limited due to their inability to grow at low temperatures. This limits their application in cold regions where refrigerated storage facilities cannot be provided.

2. Most microorganisms require oxygen for growth, making them unsuitable for some processes involving aerobic reactions. For example, fermentation requires aerobes, while most organic synthesis involves reduction-oxidation reactions.

3. Some microorganisms may cause disease when introduced into humans.

4. There are disadvantages associated with mixed-culture fermentations. One drawback is that there must be sufficient diversity among the members of the mixed culture so that their products interact synergistically. This means that the different microbes should differ sufficiently in their metabolic pathways not to utilize the same compound. Another problem arises when the desired end product is destroyed during the fermentation. A good example is the destruction of vitamin C in orange juice by
acetic acid bacteria.

Conclusion

We need to use these beneficial bacteria because they play an essential role in our lives. They provide many benefits, but we may get sick at times due to their presence. So we should take care while using them.

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