Microbes in Human Welfare

Microbes are the important components of life on earth. Microbes cause a large number of diseases in human beings, plants and animals. But not all microbes are pathogenic. Several microbes are useful to man in diverse ways. Micro-organisms such as Lactobacillus and others commonly called lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are used to make curd from milk. In baking industries, baker’s yeast or Saccharomyces cerevisiae is used for making breads. Certain dishes such as idli and dosa are made from dough fermented by microbes. In cheese industries, certain Bacteria and fungi are used to impart particular texture, taste and flavor to cheese Microbes are used to synthesise a number of industrial products like lactic acid, acetic acid which are valuable to human beings. Microbes especially yeasts have been used for the production of beverages like wine, beer, whisky, brandy, etc. Antibiotics like penicillins are also produced by useful microbes. Microbes are also being used to treat sewage (waste water) by the process of activated sludge formation. Biogas is a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide. It is produced by anaerobic breakdown of organic matter by the bacteria known as methanogens, example Methanobacterium. Biocontrol is the practice of using natural enemies of pests for destroying them. An organism that is used to control a pest is called a biocontrol agent. Several microorganisms are used as biocontrol agents. Biocontrol methods use fungal herbicides, bacterial insecticides and entomopathogenic fungi to control pests. The bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) kills large number of insects like moths and aphids, and it is used as an insecticide. Entomopathogenic fungi like Hirsutella thompsonii kill their host insects after growing in them. GM crops have been developed with insect- resistant Bt genes incorporated in them Chemical fertilisers have considerably deteriorated our environment and caused environmental pollution. So biofertilisers are used to add nutrient to the soil. Biofertilisers include the use of various microorganisms like bacteria, fungi and cyanobacteria to increase soil fertility.

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