What is the Role of Microbes in Our Life? Microorganisms Class 8 Science
In this article, we will discuss the topic ‘Role of Microbes in Our Life’, from the ‘Chapter 2 Microorganisms’ out for Class 8 Science.
Role of microbes in our life
You might know microbes only for causing harm to human beings by causing diseases and making us ill.
But, the truth is microbes are also beneficial to us in a variety of ways. They help in preparation of several household & industrial products like curd, cake, bread, antibiotics & beverages. They also help the environment acting as decomposers and biofertilizers. They play an important in sewage treatment as well.
Microbes’ Role in Curdling of Milk
Microbes play a vital role in preparing curd from milk. Curd contains a bacterium, Lactobacillus
Lactobacillus is a friendly-bacterium. It treats & prevents diarrhea, helps in food breakdown and absorption of nutrients.
Following changes lead to the formation of curd from milk:
- A small amount of curd (starter) is added to milk
- Lactobacillus(present in curd) converts sugars in milk (Lactose) into lactic acid
- Lactic acid imparts a sour taste to curd
- Increased acidity causes milk proteins (casein) to turn into solid masses. This changes the texture of curd.
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Microbes’ Role in Baking
Yeast is used as a raising agent in baking. Most commonly used yeast is Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It is due to the action of yeast that the dough rises if you leave it for sometime adding yeast to it during kneading.
Dough (Flour) contains carbohydrates. Yeast when added to it, converts carbohydrates into CO2. Due to the formation of CO2, the dough rises. While preparing cake/ bread, the dough is baked. Once baked, the yeast dies. As a result, a soft and spongy baked product is formed.
Microbes also play a vital role in fermenting idli/dosa batter. Idli/ dosa batter contain Urad pulses. These Urad seeds contain Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB). These bacteria lead to the formation of Lactic acid and CO2. Formation of Lactic acid gives a sour taste to the batter. Therefore, the batter should not be fermented for too long, else it might turn too sour.
Microbes’ Role in Antibiotics Preparation
Microbes are also used to prepare antibiotics, which are used to treat several bacterial infections. Antibiotics are chemical substances that kill disease-causing microbes. It is quite interesting to find that there are some microbes which cause diseases; on the other hand, some other microbes help in preparation of antibiotics, and thus, cure diseases.
Alexander Fleming, a Scottish scientist discovered the first antibiotic & named it ‘Penicillin’.
Penicillin discovery was ‘a chance’ discovery. Fleming was experimenting with Staphylococcus bacteria. A Petri dish (cell culture dish) had been left open by mistake, was found to be contaminated by blue-green mold. This visible mold growth inhibited bacterial growth around itself.
Fleming concluded that mold released a substance that inhibited bacterial growth. This substance was the antibiotic which was named ‘Penicillin’ after the mold Penicilliumnotatum.
Penicillin was named after Penicilliumnotatum.
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Role of Microbes in Vaccination
- Vaccination is a process in which vaccine is given to improve the immunity of the body against a specific disease. The vaccine is a biological preparation that resembles a disease-causing These vaccines are made up of dead or very weak microbes.
- In vaccination, a memory of the disease-causing organism is created inside the body, so that the body can fight back any further attack of the same disease-causing organism. The vaccine is introduced into the body which resembles a disease-causing organism, at the same time, very mild to cause any harm to the body. The body produces Antibodies in response to the vaccine. These Antibodies fight any further attack of the Antigen.
- Antigen refers to any foreign substance inside the body. These can be chemicals, micro-organisms (bacteria, virus etc), Toxins, Pollen etc. Antigens trigger the immune system to produce antibodies. Antibodies recognize & neutralize pathogens. Each antibody binds to a specific antigen.
- Vaccination has been a huge success. Diseases like smallpox are eradicated. Many diseases like polio, tetanus, and measles have been reduced to a large extent.
Role of microbes in the Production of Beverages
- Yeasts play an important role in the production of various alcoholic drinks. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is popularly termed as Brewer’s yeast.
- Saccharomyces cerevisiae ferments fruit juices & malted cereals. Molecules like glucose, fructose, and sucrose are converted into C2H5OH and CO2 and release energy. Yeasts perform this conversion in absence of oxygen.
- C6H12O6 –> 2C2H5OH + 2CO2
- This reaction takes place in presence of enzyme Zymase. Alcohol (Ethanol) is produced as a result of this reaction. CO2released is used as raising agent in making bread.
Role of Microbes in Preparation of Chemicals
Several chemicals are produced by Microbes like organic acids, enzymes, and alcohol. Some of the examples of microbes which produce various organic acids are as follows:
- Lactobacillus Lactic acid
- Acetobacteraceti Acetic acid
- Clostridium butylicum Butyric acid
- Aspergillus niger Citric acid
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