Microorganisms are present in very large numbers in this entire biosphere. Only they do not occur in diverse forms but their activities are more diverse it varies from causing diseases to plants, animals and humans to the production of various useful products, recovery of metals, enhancing soil fertility.
In the present scenario their role in the speedy development of ecology and environment cannot be ignored the major uses of microbiology are described in the following.
Microbes as food
Microbes provide us a variety of food products and may be sometimes, they serve as source of food. At the other hand, they use our food supply as a source of nutrient for their growth. Hence, it causes deterioration of our food. Microorganisms such as Mucor, Rhizopus, Botrytis, Penicillium, Aspergillus etc. are examples which cause spoilage of food.
These organisms are also used in cheese flavoring, manufacture of enzymes, organic acids, alcohols and many other such products. Unicellular yeasts are involved in the manufacture food items like bread, beer, wine, vanegar. Yeasts become undersirable when spoil fruit juices, syrups, molasses, jams, jellies, wine, beer etc. Fungi like mushrooms are directly used as a delicious food all over the world.
Bacteria type of microorganisms is similarly used as the ingredient of food. They help in manufacture of vitamins, alcohol and various types of organic acids. Bacteria like Lactobacillus needs special mention here since the diary industry absolutely revolves around this organism.
However, certain bacteria are highly dangerous since they produce toxins. Salmonella cause food infections. Staphylococci species produce enter toxins which cause food poisoning. Many food borne diseases occur due to bacteria. For example, Yesinia pasties are the causal organism of plague in humans and rats are carried through the cereals.
Industrial uses of microbes
Enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, antibiotics, organic acids and alcohols are commercially manufactured from the microorganisms. Microbial enzymes are generally extra cellular and marketed in crude form. Lipases are used in the detergents like surf and proteases are also used in detergents and in leather industries, food industries, Pectinases are used in clarifying fruit juies, amylases in the starch hydrolysates which in turn is used in various product formation such as beer, vinegar etc.
Microbes produce some important amino acids such as glutamic acid, lysine Citric acid, a Krebs cycle intermediate is produced mainly from Aspergillus niger, and used in preservation of food.
Use of microbes in Biotechnology
The use of techniques in manipulation of genetic information of the microbes is called genetic engineering and use of such genetically engineered microbes in the industrial practices is called biotechnology. Many proteins of pharmacological importance can be produced from the genetically engineered microbes.
Vaccines and diagnostic kits have been developed from the improved strains of microorganisms. Human growth hormones have been cloned in bacteria. Viral, bacterial and protozoam antigens have been developed for protection of humans from dysentery, typhoid, and cholera.
Viral vaccines against flu, influenza and human immunodeficiency syndrome are found to be cloned fully. The viral vaccines that consist of cloned polypeptide antigens and produced by genetic engineering have been introduced to prevent foot and mouth disease and hepatitis B.
Flavoring agents of candy, ice cream and such other confectioneries, as a preservative for stored blood and in ointments and cosmetics, the microbes are being used. Microorganisms are used in manufacture of vitamin B|2 which human body cannot make.
Lactic acid and acetic acid are commercially significant microbial byproducts. Lactic acid is used as food preservative and acetic acid is the major component of vinegar. A large number of antibiotic have been developed from many microorganisms. Penicillin's, streptomycin's, tetracycline's etc. are examples of it.
Microbes in agriculture
The microbes play an important role in recycling of the important elements like oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and sulphur and phosphorous. Photosynthetic and chemo synthetic bacteria and all the algal forms contribute to a great extent in liberation of oxygen to the atmosphere.
These organisms can utilize the inorganic and elemental forms, many essential nutrients and bring it to the utilizable form for many organisms in that environment. The nitrogen which is an essential component of the proteins is completely an inert gas. Yet is can mostly be fixed by certain bacteria independently or in symbiotic association of other organisms.
At the other hand, microbes like fungi, bacteria, viruses cause diseases due to which complete failure in the crop production occur. Phytophthora infestans is one of such microbes for which there Iris famine was caused in 1840S. Bengal famine occurred during the pre-independence period due to Helminthorium Oryzae the caused complete failure of rice production.
Microbes in medicine
The horrible epidemics like small pox, diphtheria, whooping cough, poliomyeletis have been either reduced to a great extent or completely controlled by use of vaccination developed from the microbes.
Living cells injected with viruses produce viral proteins having a broad spectrum of antiviral action. Interfere on also have a number of other biological effects like inhibition of parasitic infections of rickettsiae, protozoa and bacteria
In the last 150 years, a number of pathogenic microorganisms have been isolated and their control measures have been developed using other microbes or their secretions called antibiotic.
Besides, the microbiology in recent years has been utilized in pollution management, decay and disintegration various types' wastes, treatment of sewage and water supply etc. Still many a good of number for uses of microorganisms are not known to human beings who may be developed in course time.