The tiny organisms can not be seen by naked eye, or require the use of microscopes for their visualization are called microbes. These are studied under the branch of biology known as microbiology. Microbiology mainly involves the study of virus, fungi, parasites and bacteria. It also includes the study of immune system.
Microbes are present in all parts of biosphere i.e soil, hotsprings, ocean floor, atmosphere and deep inside Earth’s crust. They are the first form of life on Earth. Their fossils date back more than three and a half billion years to a time when the Earth was covered with oceans. They have a fast rate of evolution. They reproduce rapidly and are highly versatile organisms.
The first person to observe microbes was Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek. He established that there were form of life which were not visible to the naked eye. Along with leeuwenhoek, Spallanzani and Pasteur ended the long held believe that life spontaneously appeared from non-living substance during the process of spoilage. Later in 1876, Roberto Koch proved that diseased were caused by micro organisms.
Microbes play a very important role in industries. Following are some important features of microbes which make them industrially important:
• They produce rapidly. Billions of microble cells can reproduce in single day. For example, under optimal conditions of growth E.coli double itself in 15-20 minutes.
• The medium require for their growth is cheap and easily available throughout year.
• They are very versatile and have great biodiversity. They can reproduce and live under extreme conditions of temperature, pH, pressure, salt etc.
• Industrially important microbes’s genotype if fully known, which is helpful to understand the biosynthetic and regulation of a desired gene product.
• Without any effect on their productivity or desired characters, microbed can be stored for many years.
• This process is eco friendly
• Their biomass can be used as excellent fertilizer.
BENEFITS OF MICROBES
There are some people who undoubtedly fear all microbes due to their association with various human illness. Many microorganisms are also responsible for various beneficial processes such as antibiotic production, as vehicles for cloning in more complex organisms such as plants, industrial fermentation. Biotechnologically important enzymes such as Taq polymerase was produce by scientists with their knowledge of microbes.
For the industrial production of amino acids bacteria can be used. L-glutamate and L-lysine are produced more than two millions of tons annually with Corynebacterium glutamicum . Microbes are also responsible for the production of variety of biopolymers, such as polysaccharides, polyamides and polyesters. They are also used for the production of biopolymers with tailored properties suitable or high value medical application such as drug delivery and tissue engineering. Xanthan, alignate, cellulose, cyanophycin, levan,...