5 ways we use microbes you probably didn’t know

cheese, dairy, microbe

1. Dairy goods
Milk contains the sugar lactose, which can be broken down by bacteria to form lactic acid. It’s this lactic acid that gives yoghurt, cheese and other popular fermented dairy products their signature sour taste.

2. Antibiotics
Certain moulds, eg Penicillium, produce natural antibiotics that can incapacitate bacteria. By altering the structure of these chemicals, we have created powerful
and effective drugs to fight infection.

3. Sewage busters
Micro-organisms are used at several stages in the treatment of sewage. They are effective in removing nitrogen, phosphorus and other biological contamination from the waste, cleaning it.

4. Making protein
Bacteria readily take up and absorb DNA, which allows scientists to use them as miniature factories of sorts, utilising that function to produce proteins using genes from other species.

5. Vitamins
Us humans, just like plants and animals, cannot produce the essential vitamin B12 on our own. Instead we rely on various archaea and bacteria to do the work for us.

vitamins microbes