Microbes!!! Isn’t it scary to hear as if they are the murders, but here you will get to know some amazing benefits of them which can make you put down your hand sanitisers. The one having the power to create as well as destroy us. Yes! They are the smallest ones having the potential to finish the biggest ones. Microbes are tiny single-celled organisms on earth that exist in a unicellular form or a Colony of cells. Omnipresent creatures having a 60% share on earth. From soil to the shelf of every supermarket microbes have made their impact everywhere.

Microbes cannot be seen from naked eyes.

They are extremely diverse having uncountable potentials and an innumerable tendency to create and destroy with the unity they are having.

Habitats

Omnipresent creatures can thrive in extreme places such as very cold(extremophiles)and very hot (Thermus aquaticus (50-80 degree centigrade)

Cold extremophiles are also known as psychrophiles found under ice sheets of Siberia and Antarctica of temperature 5-20 degree centigrade

Five types of microbes together count millions

Bacteria –

  • unicellular, prokaryotic, anucleate
  • used in making antibiotics
  • used in agriculture as pesticides(in nitrogen fixation)

Fungi –

  • unicellular or multicellular,
  • used in the baking industry, brewery industry, making beverages

Viruses-

  • non-cellular microbes,
  • human virome (total no of viruses in and out of our body that protects us from other harmful microbes

Protists –

  • unicellular organisms,
  • supplies oxygen,recycle important nutrients and make them available for other life forms.

Archaea(oldest living fossils)-

  • unicellular organisms
  • have unique cell wall making them thrive in the toughest environment,
  • found in the human gut and skin.

HISTORY (pack of facts) –

Microbes were advantageous to human from the very beginning,

In 1942, during World War II penicillin (an antibiotic formed from Penicillium notatum-(fungus) ) was produced in mass to fight infection (caused by staphylococcus bacteria).

This great achievement in Medical Technology was possible because of Sir Alexander Fleming.

Microbes were the first forms of life on earth.

Food microbiology- invisible chefs

use of microbes in the food industry

Food is one of the most important factors in our life and microbes play a significant role in this sometimes in the process, sometimes in the result and sometimes being food itself.

  • Chlorella-a food source for human in space because of its multiple nutritional benefits.
  • Morchella,truffles-edible fungus
  • Spirulina(BGA)- an edible fungus
  • Agaricusbisporus – edible mushrooms(fungi)
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae(yeast)- used in making bread (Baker’s yeast)
  • Lactobacillus(lactic acid bacteria)- produce curd from milk, increases vitamin B12 in the curd and also kill disease-causing microbes in our body.
  • Propionibacterium Sharmaani – used in making Swiss cheese
  • Propionobacterium Roqueforti – ripens Roqueforti cheese.
  • Traditionally 3500 fermented foods made by fungi are eaten in the world.
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae(fungi)-  beverages like wine, beer, brandy, rum, whisky are made by fermenting fruit juices and malted cereals.

Chemicals by microbes

  • Citric acid- are produced by submerged fermentation using Aspergillus niger or candida species from various carbohydrates sources.
  • Vinegar production- it is a dilute solution of Acetic Acid produced by oxidation of ethanol by Acetic Acid bacteria.

Diatoms (fungi)-

  • Used in filtration because of their thin fine structural shells
  • Makes diatomite-a white silica-rich mineral
  • Used in forensic studies
  • Used as a pest repellent

Microbes in enzyme production

  • Lipases that are used in detergent formulations and removing oil stains from clothes
  • Pectinases and proteases- clearing bottled juices through the reduction of turbidity.

Diatoms as a drug delivery agent

In Cancer, many treatments are there such as chemotherapy which kill cancer cells but also harms other the healthy cells and cause side effects on patients.

To reduce this, Drug Delivery agent can be changed to silica-based nanoparticle but it is very expensive and also involve the use of Toxic Chemicals.

Scientists in an experiment on mice used silica-rich algae(diatoms) replace expensive artificial silica nanoparticles.

The diatoms Thalassiosira pseudonana is genetically engineered by altering silica coatings to develop antibody binding ability to deliver drug-loaded silica-based nanoparticle to the target cells.

Microbes in energy production

Diatoms –

  • They manufacture valves of different shapes and sizes repeatedly allowing them to make micro or nano-scale structures used in a range of devices like semiconductor, nanolithography and optical systems.
  • Estimated by the scientist in the next 10 years new dye-sensitized solar cells three times efficient will be made of copies of biological structures because diatoms can be used to replace photosensitive dioxide with Silicon dioxide(used by diatoms to create their cell walls)
  • They can be used in biofuel also.

Microbes in the environment

  • In paleoecology– silica cell walls do not decompose and used to describe conditions in the past

Microbes boost the immune system

Bacillus found in the digestive tract helps to fight harmful microbes and could potentially help the body to fight cancerous tumours

Microbes from an autoimmune disorder

If the microbial community is disturbed in our body the body is not able to differentiate between self and foreign cells. In Type 1 Diabetes this happens which results in, the body killing cells that produce insulin.

According to various experiment on E-coli, it is estimated that in the future microbial yoghurt could replace insulin shots for people having type 1 diabetes.

Microbes in detoxification and combating stress

Microbes in our body take in toxins and destroy their harmful effects. According to study people having less microbial community in their gut have intense stress issues.

Microbes keep us lean

They produce chemicals that shape our metabolic rate and people having disturbance in their microbial community are found obese.

Microbes in baby’s health

Babies born with old-fashioned way are healthier than with Caesarean Section because in the old fashioned way a baby comes out through the vagina due to which they are exposed to microbes of the mother making them healthy and those from Caesarean section may develop allergies and asthma.

Microbes in bioremediation

Here microbes such as bacteria, algae, fungi degrade the contaminants causing pollution resulting in a threat to human life. The microbes are fed with nutrients and all their needs to break down the contaminants.Example- in junkyards, industrial oil spills, Land Development, fertilization etc.

Microbes in biotechnology as genetically modified organisms

In agriculture–

  • BT Cotton- here BT toxin gene is cloned from strains of bacteria Bacillus Thuringiensis and expressed in plants making them resistant to pests.
  • pest-resistant plants- by RNA interference using Agrobacterium vectors parasites of nematode are destroyed.

Pseudomonas putida(bacteria) made by Anand Mohan Chakraborty-oil-eating bacteria made by genetic engineering.

Microbes in sewage treatment

In the secondary treatment or biological treatment the vigorous growth of microbes into flocs and consume most of the oxygen and organic matter of effluent which indicates pollution level through BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand)

In biogas- bacteria produce a mixture of gas( Methane, hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide) and this gas is a source of energy.

Microbes in Biogas production –

methanogen present in the rumen of cattle produce a large amount of Methane along with carbon dioxide and hydrogen and these produce biogas commonly called Gobar gas.

Microbes in antibiotics

  • Streptomyces (fungi)- produces Tetracyclines, Erythromycin
  • Penicillin (fungus)- produces Penicillium Notatum
  • Streptomycin obtained from Streptomyces griseus (bacteria)

Microbes as bioactive molecules

  • cyclosporine A-an immune-suppressive agent used in organ transplant patient made by fungus Trichoderma polysporum
  • statins-  blood cholesterol-lowering agent made by yeast fungus Monascus purpureus

Microbes in studies

  • Neurospora- used in genetic research around the world.

 All the above facts are mentioned are very few among all. There are vast uses of microbes and their potential is not yet defined.

According to a new estimate 99.999% of microbes are yet to be discovered.

These tiny creatures have the potential to do impossible tasks if only they are used and experimented with wisely. They have given life to humans as they were the first on earth 3.5 billion years ago and they are giving today also. They are the makers and maintenance of this world. use their potential and shape them as per your needs and you get what you want.

As someone said “if you don’t like microbes, you are on the wrong planet”

“Gentleman, it is the microbes who will have the last word”– Louis Pasteur

1 Comment

  1. Mrityunjay

    Amazed to see this much benefits of microbes

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