Microorganisms in Medicine and Industry

Microorganisms in Medicine and Industry

Microorganisms in Medicine


  • Microorganisms play a crucial role in the production of antibiotics such as penicillin, which is produced by the mould Penicillium.
  • Antibiotics are essential for the treatment of bacterial infections.
  • Through a process called fermentation, microorganisms grow and multiply to produce antibiotic substances.


  • Traditional vaccines are created by using weakened or killed forms of the microbe, or parts of the microbe, to stimulate an immune response.
  • Some vaccines, like the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine, are produced with the help of genetically engineered yeast cells.


  • Some bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are used as probiotics.
  • Probiotics are microorganisms that, when consumed in appropriate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.

Microorganisms in Industry

Brewing and Distilling

  • The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae ferments sugars to produce alcohol.
  • This process is essential for the brewing of beer and the distilling of spirits.


  • Yeast is also used in the baking industry.
  • The CO2 produced by yeast during fermentation causes dough to rise, giving bread its light, airy texture.


  • Microorganisms are essential for producing enzymes in industrial quantities.
  • For example, the bacteria Escherichia coli is used to produce the insulin used by diabetics.
  • Producing enzymes from microorganisms, via fermentation, often uses less energy and produces less waste than traditional methods, making it environmentally friendly.

Waste treatment

  • Certain microorganisms are used in sewage treatment plants to break down organic material.
  • Microorganisms are also used in biological waste treatment processes, such as composting, to recycle organic material.


  • Some microorganisms can ferment biomass into biofuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel.
  • Anaerobic bacteria, for example, convert organic waste into biogas, such as methane, which can be used as fuel.