Uses of micro-organisms
Role in Food Production
- Fermentation: Micro-organisms such as yeast have a crucial role in dough fermentation, which is key for making bread.
- Alcohol Production: Many food and drinks like beers, wines, and spirits are produced using yeast which converts sugar into alcohol through fermentation.
- Dairy Industry: Microorganisms are used in the production of yoghurt and cheese. They ferment lactose, the sugar in milk, producing lactic acid which contributes to the taste and preservation.
In the Development of Medication
- Antibiotics Production: Many antibiotics, like penicillin, are produced from fungi and bacteria.
- Probiotics: Certain micro-organisms, known as probiotics, are added to foods like yoghurts to promote ‘friendly bacteria’ in our gut.
In Improving Soil Fertility
- Nitrogen Fixation: Certain bacteria in the soil convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that plants can use to grow, improving soil fertility.
- Decomposition: Micro-organisms decompose organic material in soil, releasing nutrients needed by plants.
In Waste Management
- Composting: Microbial decomposition of organic material like vegetable peels and garden waste occurs in compost heaps creating nutrient-rich compost.
- Sewage Treatment: Micro-organisms play a role in the breakdown and detoxification of waste in sewage treatment plants, thus helping clean water supply.
Despite all these benefits, remember that some micro-organisms can lead to food spoilage and food poisoning. Thus, adequate food storage, handling and preparing practises are crucial.