Summary

  • Microbes are a very important component of life on earth. Not all microbes are pathogenic.
  • Many microbes are very useful to human beings.
  • We use microbes and microbially derived products almost every day.
  • Bacteria called lactic acid bacteria (LAB) grow in milk to convert it into curd.
  • The dough, which is used to make bread, is fermented by yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
  • Certain dishes such as idli and dosa, are made from dough fermented by microbes. Bacteria and fungi are used to impart particular texture, taste and flavor to cheese.
  • Microbes are used to produce industrial products like lactic acid, acetic acid and alcohol, which are used in a variety of processes in the industry.
  • Antibiotics like penicillins produced by useful microbes are used to kill disease-causing harmful microbes.
  • Antibiotics have played a major role in controlling infectious diseases like diphtheria, whooping cough and pneumonia.
  • For more than a hundred years, microbes are being used to treat sewage (waste water) by the process of activated sludge formation and this helps in recycling of water in nature.
  • Methanogens produce methane (biogas) while degrading plant waste.
  • Biogas produced by microbes is used as a source of energy in rural areas.
  • Microbes can also be used to kill harmful pests, a process called as biocontrol.
  • The biocontrol measures help us to avoid heavy use of toxic pesticides for controlling pests.
  • There is a head need these days to push for use of biofertilisers in place of chemical fertilisers.
  • It is clear from the diverse uses human beings have put microbes to that they play an important role in the welfare of human society.

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