Bacteria: Use in Industry, Food Processing, Soil Health and Bioremediation

Some other notable used of bacteria include in Dairy Industry, Food Industry, Soil Health, Bioremediation, Biotoilet

Dairy Industry

In Dairy Industry, Lactobacillus bacteria are used in fermentation of lactose sugar to form lactic acid (in curd). Lactobacillus in combination with yeasts and molds, have been used for thousands of years in the preparation of fermented foods such as cheese, pickles, soy sauce, sauerkraut, vinegar, wine, and yogurt.

Food Industry

The Bacillus megatherium bacterium is used in the Flavoring of Tea and Tobacco. Acetobacter aceti is used in preparation of vinegar from Alcohol.

Industrial Uses

Clostridium acetobutylicum is able to produce acetone from acetic acid as well as butanol from butyric acid. In Biogas plants, the bacterium called Methanobecterium is used for production of Methane. Bacteria are useful in the Fibre ratting in which the fibres of Jute, hemp and Flax are prepared. Clostridium butyricum is used in the process and these bacteria hydrolyze the middle lamella of these plant fibres. Microbial mining, which is the bacteria and other microorganisms are cultured in container and then used to bring these processes e.g., copper extraction, iron extraction; which involves bacteria called Ferro-oxidans.

Bacteria in soil formation and soil fertility

As soon as a fresh rock is exposed to a biological environment certain organisms, notably the bacteria take possession of it. There is an instance of increased production of organic matter and it results in formation of soil contents. There are many bacteria which decompose the rotten substances like dung, dead residues of animals etc. Some bacteria enhance the fertility of the soil by means of denitrification especially of plants Rhizobium bacteria are found in the roots of the plants which nitrified (transformed) atmospheric nitrogen into the nitrates. Such nitrates act like fertilizers and along with the growth of the plants fertility of the soil is also enhanced.

Other uses
  • Bacteria work as natural scavengers as they are able to decay huge amount of plant, animal and human waste.
  • Using biotechnology techniques, bacteria can also be bioengineered for the production of therapeutic proteins, such as insulin, growth factors or antibodies.
  • Some bacteria living in the gut of cattle, horses and other herbivores secrete cellulase, an enzyme that helps in the digestion of the cellulose contents of plant cell walls. Cellulose is the major source of energy for these animals. generally plant cells contain cellulose.the bacteria present in the stomach of cattle will help in the digestion of cellulose.
  • Escherichia coli that live in the human large intestine synthesize vitamin B and release it for human use. Similarly, Clostridium butyclicum is used for commercial preparation of riboflavin, and vitamin B.
  • Bacillus thuringiensis (also called BT), a Gram-positive, soil dwelling bacterium is used for Pest Control and producing Bt crops.
  • Bioremediation techniques such as Oil zapper use bacteria.
  • Many antibiotics are used from bacteria. Some of them are Bacitracin, Polymyxin B, Streptomycine, Erythromycine, neomycin-B, Chloramophenicol etc.
Antibiotics (medicines)Bacteria
StreptomycinStreptococcus groseis
Tyrothrycin-ABacillus brevis
Polymyxin-BBacillus polymixa
BacitracinB.Subtilis, Bacillus Licheniformis
Pleasant smell of the earth after the first shower

Pleasant smell of the earth after the first shower (earthy odour) is caused by the production of a series of streptomycete metabolites called geosmins.

These substances are sesquiterpenoid compounds and unsaturated compound of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. The geosmins first discovered has the chemical name trans-1, 10-dimethyl-trans-9-decalol; however, other volatile products produced by certain species of Streptomyces may also be responsible for the characteristic smell.

Oil Zapper

‘Oilzapper’ technology was developed by ONGC-Teri Biotech Ltd (OTBL), a joint venture between ONGC and TERI. This technology was first used by OTBL in Mehsana in Gujarat to eliminate an oil spill and manage the sludge created from the first oil well in the region. The water became clean and subsequently a home to a variety of birds.

Bacteria in the Bio-Digester Toilet

Bio-Digester Toilet is a decomposition mechanized toilet system by means of which the sludge(Human Waste), the fecal matter is decomposed to bits in the digester tank using a specific high graded bacteria further converting them into methane and water, discharged further to the desired surface.  The Bio-digester toilet is total maintenance-free system & does not require any sewage system. The specific high graded bacteria involved in these bio-digester toilets carries on to further auto generation on their own because of their supreme quality.  Bio-toilet technology is based on anaerobic biodegradation of organic waste by unique microbial consortium and works at a wide temperature range. The bacterial consortium degrades night soil at temp as low as -20 degree C and produces colourless, odourless and inflammable gas containing 50 – 70% methane.

This bacterial consortium has been made through acclimatization, enrichment and bio-augmentation of cold-active bacteria collected from Antarctica and the other low temperature areas.