Introduction to Industrial Microbiology

Industrial microbiology is a branch of science that deals with the study and uses of micro-organism which have industrial and economic applications. In industrial microbiology, microbes classified, characterized are isolated from their natural environment. Further, these micro-organism are produced on a large-scale by use of a fermentor.

Fermenting tanks with yeast being used to brew beer. Photo by Kafziel
Modern Fermenting Tanks
Photo by Kafziel

The most important applications of industrial microbiology are using microbes to convert inexpensive raw materials into economically important products. Further, these products go through detection, analysis, assay, purification and recovery to make them safe and effective. The end products are valuable, but the microbes creating these products are equally important.

During the process of industrial fermentation, microbial cells produce extra-cellular as well as intra-cellular enzymes. These enzymes play an important role in fermentation, degradation and utilization of media components. Enzymes can be used as a product by itself and have many end use applications. For example, enzymes like amylase and proteases are used in a variety of products.

An amylase is an enzyme that catalyses the hydrolysis of starch into sugars. Amylase is present in the saliva of humans and some other mammals, where it begins the chemical process of digestion.

A protease (also called a peptidase or proteinase) is any enzyme that performs proteolysis, that is, begins protein catabolism by hydrolysis of the peptide bonds that link amino acids together in a polypeptide chain.

Industrial microbiology is a field where molecular biology, genetics engineering and biochemistry are applied together for creating new things of economic value.

Industrial microbiology is an area of applied microbiology which deals with screening, improvement , management,and exploitation of microorganisms for the production of various useful end products on a large scale.

Micro-organism isolated from nature are tested for mutation and the mutant organisms are selected and further genetically engineered by Recombinant DNA technology (genetic recombination using molecular cloning). These genetically engineered organism are further used in research and development of products.

I would like to share a list of economically important products which can be obtained with the help of industrial microbiology at an industrial scale.

Economically important products

Examples

Beverages Wine, beer etc.
Amino-acids L-lysin, L-glutamic acid etc.
Enzymes Amylase, Protease etc.
Vitamins Vitamin A, Vitamin B12  etc.
Organic acids Lactic acid, Gluconic acid etc.
Antibiotics Streptomycin, Penicillin etc.
Gases Carbon dioxide, Nitrogen, Hydrogen etc.
Organic Solvent Ethanol, Butanol, Propanol, etc.
Food Cheese, Bread, Vinegar etc.
Bacterial insecticides  Bacillus Thuringiensis, etc

Applications of Industrial Microbiology

  • It is applied in quality control department of foods, beverages, pharmaceutical, dairy and chemical industries.
  • It can be applied in waste disposal and sewerage treatment systems and its research & development.
  • Antibiotics and antimicrobial products are produced, which are important for treatment of various diseases.
  • Various health care products like insulin, antibodies and hormones are produced.
  • Research & Development is carried out in industries like diagnostic assay system, R-DNA technology. These techniques are used in the development of vaccines and various metabolites production to avoid and treat various diseases.

Leave a Reply