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17.1: Industrial Microbiology - Biology


17.1: Industrial Microbiology

Industrial microbiology

Industrial microbiology is a branch of biotechnology that applies microbial sciences to create industrial products in mass quantities, often using microbial cell factories. There are multiple ways to manipulate a microorganism in order to increase maximum product yields. Introduction of mutations into an organism may be accomplished by introducing them to mutagens. Another way to increase production is by gene amplification, this is done by the use of plasmids, and vectors. The plasmids and/ or vectors are used to incorporate multiple copies of a specific gene that would allow more enzymes to be produced that eventually cause more product yield. [1] The manipulation of organisms in order to yield a specific product has many applications to the real world like the production of some antibiotics, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, solvents, alcohol and daily products. Microorganisms play a big role in the industry, with multiple ways to be used. Medicinally, microbes can be used for creating antibiotics in order to treat antibiotics. Microbes can also be used for the food industry as well. Microbes are very useful in creating some of the mass produced products that are consumed by people. The chemical industry also uses microorganisms in order to synthesize amino acids and organic solvents. Microbes can also be used in an agricultural application for use as a biopesticide instead of using dangerous chemicals and or inoculants to help plant proliferation.


Molecular Products from Microbes

The isolation of molecular products from microbes is considered to be a key component of molecular biology research.

Learning Objectives

Describe how Taq polymerase, restriction enzymes and DNA ligase are used in molecular biology

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Various enzymes can be isolated from microorganisms and utilized in recombinant – DNA production.
  • The ability of some archaea to thrive in extreme environments has led to analysis and isolation of important molecular components of the organisms, such as Taq polymerase, that have contributed to modern molecular biology techniques.
  • Modern-day molecular biology techniques rely heavily on specific enzymes and molecular components derived from microbes, including DNA ligase and restriction enzymes.
  • DNA ligase functions by covalently linking, or ligating, DNA fragments.
  • Restriction enzymes function by recognizing and cutting specific sequences within DNA.

Key Terms

  • polymerase chain reaction: A technique in molecular biology for creating multiple copies of DNA from a sample used in genetic fingerprinting etc.
  • restriction enzymes: an endonuclease that cuts DNA at specific recognition sequences

The expansion and growing popularity of the field of molecular biology has resulted in a higher demand for tools used to study molecular biology. The field of molecular biology specifically deals with the molecular mechanisms of a cell and focuses on the regulation of cellular interactions. Topics of particular interest within the field include gene expression (transcription and translation) and protein synthesis. Studying these mechanisms in the laboratory has been made possible by the use of molecules derived from microbes. The following is a brief overview of some of the molecular products derived from microbes that allow for the performance of popular molecular biology techniques.

Taq Polymerase

Taq polymerase is an enzyme that was first isolated from the microbe Thermus aquaticus. T. aquaticus is a specific type of bacterial species, a DNA polymerase, that is thermostable — it can withstand extremely high temperatures. The isolation of this polymerase has resulted in the ability to perform polymerase chain reactions (PCR), a process used to amplify DNA segments, in a single step. Prior to the isolation of Taq polymerase, a new DNA polymerase had to be added to the reaction after every cycle because of thermal denaturation. With the addition of Taq polymerase to the reaction tube, the cycle can be performed much more quickly, and less enzyme needs to be used. Currently, Taq polymerase is manufactured and produced on a large scale and is available for commercial sale.

Restriction Enzymes

Restriction enzymes are a specific class of enzymes isolated from various bacteria and archaea, in which they grow naturally as a means of protection against viral infection. These enzymes have the ability to cut DNA at specific recognition sequences and have served as invaluable tools in DNA modification and manipulation. The enzymes have the ability to recognize foreign DNA and cut it up. The bacteria and archaea from which these enzymes are isolated from have innate mechanisms to protect their own DNA sequences from these enzymes, such as methylation. The isolation of approximately 3000 restriction enzymes has allowed molecular biologists to utilize them in processes such as cloning and the production of recombinant DNA.

EcoRI Restriction Enzyme: An example of a specific restriction enzyme, EcoRI, which exhibits the ability to target specific sequences within DNA.

DNA Ligase

Another enzyme that was isolated from T. aquaticus and that has been undeniably important to the field of molecular biology is DNA ligase. DNA ligase plays a key role in molecular biology processes due to its ability to insert DNA fragments into plasmids. The process of DNA ligation is defined as the ability of DNA ligase to covalently link, or ligate, fragments of DNA together. In molecular biology — specifically, during the process of developing recombinant DNA — DNA ligase can be used to ligate a fragment of DNA into a plasmid vector. The most commonly used DNA ligase is derived from the T4 bacteriophage and is referred to as T4 DNA ligase.

Example of a DNA Ligation: Diagram of a DNA ligation.


17.1: Industrial Microbiology - Biology

Microbiology and Industry

Industrial Microbiology and the Food Industry:

  • Yeast is used make breads, baked goods, alcohol, yogurt and other foods and drink items.
  • Today‚Äôs yeast are specially engineered to work in large scale industrial applications.
  • Specialized bacteria and molds are used to make cheeses of different types.
  • Biofertilizers include bacteria such as Rhizobia that fix nitrogen.
  • Food additives increase nutritional value, retard spoilage, change consistency and enhance flavor. These may be natural compounds such as guar gum and xanthan gum or flavor enhancers and vitamins.

Industrial Microbiology and Medicine:

  • Biosensors are monitors used in the detection of specific targets in the environment, human body or other organisms.
  • Antibiotic production is a capacity that many microbes have naturally.
  • Microbes have been developed as a drug delivery system.
  • Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) has been exploited to make and deliver vaccines and other bioactive materials.
  • Microbes have been developed that degrade oil so that they it may be more easily extracted.
  • Microbes are involved in the production of paper.

Industrial Microbiology and Economics:

  • In the cosmetic industry the botulism toxin derived from Clostridium botulinum is utilized.
  • Biopesticides have been developed for the control of insect, nematodes and other pathogens that effect plants.
  • Synthetic energy fuels such as ethanol, methane, hydrogen and hydrocarbons are produced by microbes.
  • Gasohol which is a 9:1 blend of gasoline and ethanol is a popular fuel alternative. The ethanol is produced as a by product of yeast fermentation.
  • Microbes have been used in mining. An example of this is the recovery of metals is facilitated by bacteria by helping to solubilize it making it more easily extracted.
  • Microorganisms have been used to clean up the environment in a process called bioremediation. In bioremediation a microbe is introduced into an environment where its natural metabolism results in the detoxification or break down of hazardous chemicals or pollutants.
  • Rhizobia are bacteria that fix nitrogen and make it available for plant nutrition and growth. They form nodules on the roots of legumes.
  • Azolla is a fee floating water plant that fixes nitrogen in association with cyanobacteria. It acts as a renewable biofertilizer.
  • Azotobacter are nitrogen fixing bacteria that do not form nodules on plant roots or associate with legumes. They are free living and in addition to fixing nitrogen they can produce antibiotics and beneficial growth substances.
  • Azospirillum fix nitrogen inside plant roots. They produce beneficial compounds for plant growth and can survive in wetland conditions as well as soils.
  • Mycorrhiza are fungi that form symbiotic relationships with plant roots. Vesicular arbuscular mycorrhiza (VAM) is the most important member of this group. VAM colonies take up nutrients and water which is available for the plant and they act as root extensions.
  • Probiotics are live microbes that may have a beneficial affect on a host eating them.
  • Biofertilizers are living microbes that enrich the nutrient quality of soil.
  • Biopesticides are microbes which are used to manage pests including insects, nematode or other organisms.
  • Food additives are substances used to enhance the nutritional value, stabilize or increase the palatability of a food.

The many roles of microorganisms in the life of humans and their environment are described. Microbes are so important that they play a role in practically every endeavor. They are involved in flood and energy production, medicine, cosmetics and even cleaning up the environment.

The use and appropriate application of microbes helps people to live better lives both biologically and economically.

  • Description of economic impact that biotechnology and microorganism make.
  • Demonstrate how microorganisms are used in medicine and food industries.
  • Detail the method of microorganisms in renewable energy production.
  • Examples of microorganisms in bioremediation and pollution clean up are provided.
  • Definition slides introduce terms as they are needed.
  • Examples given throughout to illustrate how the concepts apply.
  • A concise summary is given at the conclusion of the tutorial.

Microbes are critical elements in the environment to help clean up polluted areas.
Microorganisms have a role in practically every aspect of human life and industries including: medicine, manufacturing, mining, food production and others.
Microorganisms make a significant economic impact as a function of their application in industry.

See all 24 lessons in Anatomy and Physiology, including concept tutorials, problem drills and cheat sheets: Teach Yourself Microbiology Visually in 24 Hours


What Level of Education Do I Need?

This infographic shows microbiology jobs by minimum education level (from High School Diploma up to Postdoctoral Fellowship). Icons indicate the focus of a particular job, from Research to Biosafety, as explained in the "What Do Microbiologists Do?" section.


Watch the video: BBBMBT3005, Industrial Microbiology: General Concept of Fermentation (January 2022).