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Scope of microbiology

INTRODUCTION The scope of microbiology involves the study of organisms that are not
visible to the naked eye. Viruses , bacteria, algae, fungus and protozoans are all consider
microorganisms that are studied in microbiology. Study of viruses is called as virology Study
involving bacteria is called as bacteriology Study involving fungus is know as Mycology Study
involving algae is called as phycology & The study involving protozoans is known as
INTRODUCTION Microorganisms are a necessary part of many aspects of a person's life. A
man cannot even realize what organisms he is surrounded by and uses daily. Foods such as
bread, cheese, and beer use microorganisms to be formed properly. Vaccinations, vitamins, and
antibiotics use the same microorganisms to be effective.
Applications in various sectors:
Applications in various sectors
Pharma industries AND RESEARCH CENTRES:
Pharma industries AND RESEARCH CENTRES Understanding the principles of microbiology,
call structure and functions of microbes and human cell mechanisms allows pharmacists to
discover antimicrobial drugs that would prevent an escalating number of communicable diseases
(e.g. tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases). Pharmaceutical microbiologists work
synergistically with others to ensure that drug therapies target the opportunistic microbes (e.g.
fungi) without harming its human host. Another important role in pharmaceuticals is the use of
microbes for the medically important studies , such as Bacteriorhodopsin - adapted from a
protein from the plasma membrane of Halobacterium salinarum .
Pharma industries:
Pharma industries Viruses are used for preparation of vaccines that have great impact on the
community by preventing from deadly diseases e.g. Measles Chicken pox Hepatitis Tuberculosis
Polio The microbes(especially bacteria and bacteriophages) are an important group which are
used in biotechnology for producing hormones, vaccines and other biologics.
Medical devices:
Medical devices Studying microbiology helps in understanding mechanism/principle of medical
devices such as fluorescent fusion, which are used for fast and precise detection of pathogens in

tissue samples. It is a technology for carrying out immunofluorescence studies that may be
applied to find specific cells in complex biological systems.
Cosmaceuticals Microbial contamination of cosmetic products is a matter of great importance to
the industry and it can become a major cause of both product and economic losses .
(International microbiology) The contamination of cosmetics can result in production of such
entities which may be hazardous for consumers.
Cosmaceuticals :
Cosmaceuticals The water and nutrients present in cosmetics make them susceptible to
microbial growth, although only a few cases of human injury due to contaminated cosmetics
have been reported. More often, microorganisms are the cause of organoleptic alterations, such
as offensive odours, and changes in viscosity and colour. Therefore, studying microbiology is
necessary for preparation, processing and quality control of Cosmaceuticals.
BIOPHARMACEUTICALS TESTING Biopharmaceuticals are a class of medicinal products
which are typically produced using biotechnology, most commonly in a bioreactor. These
include: Therapeutic proteins (Interferon, insulin etc.) Vaccines (live, inactivated etc.) Stem cells
Oligonucleotides (RNA or DNA) Gene therapy vectors
BIOPHARMACEUTICALS TESTING The production process of these molecules is complex
and sensitive to contaminations. Mycoplasma , viruses, bacteria and fungi can cause trouble,
even in well-maintained and well-designed production plants . Where microbes are used for
their beneficial effects, it is equally necessary to eradicate them when needed e.g. from sterile
products, hospital sections (specifically surgical wards) to regulate good health practices.
Cell banks:
Cell banks A cell bank refers to a facility that stores cells of specific genome for the purpose of
future use in a product or medicinal needs. Cell banks usually contain handsome amounts of
base cell material that can be utilized for various projects. The advantages of cell banks is; 1Detailed characterization of the cell line 2- Decrease in the likelihood 3- An increase in the
detection of cross-contamination of a cell line . Cell banks may contain eukaryotic or
prokaryotic cell lines.
Quality testing of cell banks:
Quality testing of cell banks A range of strict assays are required to qualify eukaryotic and
microbial cell banks and this includes; Cell line authentication (confirm the identity of the cell

line) Purity tests (to ensure that your MCB / WCB is free of contaminants) Specific testing
packages for MCB, WCB and End of Production Cells (EOPC ) Services of pharmacists are
required in analysis and quality control section.
Virus seeds:
Virus seeds The Virus Bank (Virus Seed, Virus Stock) is a vital part of manufacturing a
biological product. The creation of a Master Virus Bank ensures reproducible testing and
production of recombinant viruses for the production of vaccines and recombinant proteins. The
process begins with the use of Master Cell Banks to create Master Virus Seed Stocks (MVSS).
From there, a Working Virus Seed Stock (WVSS) can be produced . It is also necessary to keep
records of Viral Identity, Purity and Stability.
Some important products by the microbes and their importance:
Some important products by the microbes and their importance S. No. Product Microbe (Fungi)
Applications 1 Citric acid Aspergillus niger Medical citrates In blood transfusion (as sodium
citrate) 2 Gibberellic acid Fusarium moniliforme Plant-growth hormone 3 Gluconic acid
Aspergillus niger Pharmaceutical products 4 11- -hydroxy- progesterone Rhizopus arrhizus
Intermediate for 17- - - hydroxycorticosterone 5 Itaconic acid Aspergillus terreus
Manufacture of alkyl resins and wetting agents 6 Lactic acid Rhizopus oryzae Pharmaceutical
products 7 Pectinases, Proteases Aspergillus wentii Aspergillus aureus As clarifying agent in
food industry

Uses of Virus:
(1) Cyanophages are used in the control of water blooms.
(2) Ganga water is believed not to be spoilt because of the presence of phages in it.
(3) Attenuated viral doses are used in vaccine against specific diseases.
(4) Viruses are useful to geniticists as they bring about transduction and help to establish that
DNA is a genetic material.
Economic Importance of Bacteria:
(A) In Agriculture:
Some bacteria increase soil fertility. The plants take nitrogen in the form of nitrates. In soil
nitrates are formed by three processes:
(i) By Nitrogen-Fixing Bacteria:
Bacteria are found in soil either free, e.g. Azotobacter and Clostridium or in root nodules of
leguminous plants; e.g., Rhizobium leguminosarum. These bacteria are capable of converting
atmospheric free nitrogen into nitrogenous compounds.

(ii) Nitrifying Bacteria:

These bacteria convert nitrogen of ammonia into nitrite (NO 2) e.g., Nitrosomanas and convert
nitrite compounds into nitrates e.g. Nitrobacter.
(iii) Decay of Dead Plants and Animals:
Some bacteria attack dead bodies of plants and animals and convert their complex compounds
into simpler substances, e.g. carbondioxide (CO2), water (H2O), nitrate (NO,) & sulphate (SO4).
(B) In Dairy:
Bacterium lactici acidi and B. acidi lactici are found in milk. These bacteria ferment lactose
sugar found in milk to form lactic acid by which milk becomes sour. If the milk is heated at
62.8C for 30 minutes and is simultaneously cooled the number of lactic acid bacteria is reduced
but all spores and cells of these bacteria are not destroyed and pathogenic spores are destroyed.
In this way milk becomes sour but it takes longer time to become sour than ordinary milk. This
process is known as pasteurization.
Lactic acid bacteria bring together droplets of caesin, a protein found in milk help in the
formation of curd.
On churning of curd, butter is derived in the form of fat's rounded droplets & the butter on
heating is converted into "ghee". On freezing of caesin of milk protein, it is fermented by
bacteria with the result that foamy and soft substances, different in taste is formed.
(C) Industrial Value:
From industrial point of view, bacteria are most important. Some of the uses of bacteria in
industries are as follows:
(i) Vineger Industry:
Vineger is manufactured from sugar solution in the presence of Acetobacter aceti.
(ii) Alcohol c Acetone:
Clostridium acetobutyllcum takes part in the manufacture of butyl alcohol and acetone.
(iii) Fibre Ratting:
By this process, fibres of jute, hemp and flax are prepared. In the preparation of flax, hemp and
jute; the ratting of stems of Linum ustiatissimum (Flax = Hindi: Sunn), Cannabis sativa (Hemp
= Hindi: Patson) and Corchorus capsularis (Jute) respectively is done. In this process the stems
are kept under water for some days and when stems begin to decay, fibres are separated from the
stem on thrashing. The process of separation of fibres is known as ratting. This process is carried
out by Clostridium butyricum inhabiting the water.

(iv) In Tobacco Industry:

Bacillus megathenium mycococcus is used for its fermentative capacity for developing flavour
and taste in tobacco leaves.
(v) In Tea Industry:
By fermentative action of Mycococcus condisans curing of tea leaves is done. By this process
special taste is developed in tea leaves.
(vi) Tanning of Leather:
Some bacteria decompose fats which are found in skin of animal with the result that skin and
hair are separated from each other and this leather becomes ready for use.
(D) Medicines:
Some of the antibiotics are manufactured by bacteria actions, e.g. Bacillus brevis- antibiotic
thyrothricin, B. subtilis-antibiotic subtelin. Vitamin B is manufactured by fermentative action of
Clostridium acetobutylicum. Some of the antibiotics obtained from different species of
Streptomyces are given below:
Name of Antibiotic Bacteria from which derived
1. Streptomycin Streptomyces grisieus
2. Chloromycin S. venezuelae
3. Aureomycin S. aureofaciens
4. Terramycin S. rimosus
5. Neomycin S. fradiae Viral Vaccines
When an animal is injected with killed (inactivated) or severely weakened (attenuated) viruses
(the substance injected is called 'viral vaccine'), the latter induce the animal's defence system to
make antibodies against the proteins of injected viruses. Thesre antibodies tend to protect the
animal against infection by the same virus. Viral vaccines are of two types, (i) Live vaccines:
those which are prepared from live, avirulent or severely weakened (attenuated) viruses and (jj)
Killed vaccines: those which are prepared from killed inactivated viruses.
(E) Pollution Control:
In the present day world environmental pollution poses a great threat to the lives of living beings
and natural environment. Sewage, oil-spills, pesticides, herbicides, chemical effluents and heavy
metals are just some of pollution hazards.

However, biotechnology gives a hope for controlling the pollution hazards, the biotechnical
processes directed towards the control of pollution primarily aim at destruction of specific raw
materials of pollution, i.e. the pollutants. This aim can be achieved in the following ways:
(i) Microorganisms can be deployed as voracious scavengers removing all manner of pollutants.
For example: (a) various strains of Pseudomonas can consume hydrocarbons of oil & petrol,
however each individual strain can consume only one or a few of the many different types of
The genes that code for enzymes which attack hydrocarbons are not found on the main bacterial
chromosome but on plasmids. No single strain of Pseudomonas can consume all varieties of
hydrocarbons constituting oil because the same does not contain all the genes that code the
enzymes which attack the hydrocarbons varieties.
Anand Chakrabarty (1979), an India, born American scientist created a single strain of
Pseudomonas that would be able to consume all the genes responsible for oil consumption and
thus mop up all the types of hydrocarbons in the oil. This unique bacterial strain, the product of
genetic engineering is called a SUPERBUG.
This superbug was created by introducing plasmids from different strains of Pseudomanas into a
single cell. Also the use of mixture of strains of bacteria has been successfully used to clear up
oil contaminated water from oil spills from ships and clearing up water supplies.
(b) Mixture of bacterial strains is also being used to clear up other pollutions. An impressive
example is the removal of grease deposited on the inside of a holding tank of a ship. The same
tank becomes grease free after four and half month's operation during which 'mixtures' of
bacterial strains were added.
These bacteria very efficiently prevented the buildup of grease on the tank's interior. However,
this kind of use of bacterial strains mixtures may prove significant in factories which process
meat and poultry where pipes and vessels can become plugged with grease.
(c) New chemicals (such as pesticides, herbicides), and the substances which previously
appeared on the Earth's surface only in small amounts (such as oil, many metals) tend to persist
since few of the common microorganisms in soil or water can use them as food.
This has created a growing demand for tailor made packages of microorganisms which can
consume such specific forms of pollutants. Several major companies, especially in United
States, manufacture mixtures of microorganisms and enzymes designed to clean-up chemical
wastes like oil, detergent, waste waters from paper mills and highly toxic materials such as
dioxin, the chemical that wreaked havoc on the town of Seveso (Italy).
(ii) The root cause of pollution i.e. the sources of pollution should be attacked. For example,
some bacteria convert organic faecal substances e.g. cow- dung, decaying leaves of plants into
manure and humus. Municipal sewage treatment systems which are generally operated in most
of the towns and cities carry out various steps involved.

These steps are namely, primary (or mechanical) treatment, secondary (or biological) treatment
and tertiary (or final) treatment. Secondary or biological treatment is a purely biological
treatment of mechanically treated sewage and concerns microbial activity.
This treatment accomplishes two important phases, namely aerobic phase and anaerobic phase.
The aerobic phase consists of aerobic digestion of sludge by various filters (e.g. trickling filters),
oxidations ponds and activated sludge process, and the anaerobic phase is represented by
anaerobic digestion of sludge.
(a) Trickling filters generally consists of 6-10 feet deep bed of crushed stone, gravel, slag or
similar material. The sewage effluent is sprayed over the surface of the bed, the spraying
saturates the effluent with oxygen. The bed surface becomes coated with aerobic microbial flora
consisting of microalgae, microfungi, bacteria and protozoa. As the effluent seeps over, the
aerobic microbes degrade the organic matter.
(b) Oxidation pond sewage treatment is recommended for small communities in rural areas.
Oxidation ponds (also called Lagoons or Stabilization ponds) are generally 2-5 feet deep
shallow ponds designated to allow direct wind action and algal growth on the sewage effluent.
Oxygen supplied from air and produced as a result of algal photosynthesis fulfils biochemical
oxygen demand (BOD) of sewage effluent and thus helps in maintaining aerobic condition in
sewage effluent. In such condition the aerobic microorganisms grow rapidly and digest organic
matter. Chlorella pyrenoidosa is a common algal representative grown in oxidation ponds.
(c) In Activated Sludge process the mechanically treated sewage effluent is pumped into a
sedimentation or setting tank wherein the sewage floes and settles out. A portion of sewage floe
is returned to activate a new batch of mechanically treated sewage effluent and the rest is
pumped to activate sludge digester where air is blown by several jets. Thus in the presence of
plentiful oxygen, oxidation of sewage effluent is brought about by aerobic microorganisms
which break down organic matter to carbon dioxide and water. Now the effluent is passed
through a sedimentation tank and about 10% of organic matter of the effluent in digested via this
The sludge collected after primary treatment of sewage is subjected to anaerobic digestion in a
separate tank designed specially for the purpose. Since anaerobic conditions prevail in this tank,
the anaerobic microorganisms bring about digestion of organic matter by degrading them to
soluble substances and gaseous products (methane 60-70%, C0220-30%, and smaller amounts of
H2 & N2). This gas mixture can be used for operating power of the sewage plant or as a fuel.
Recently, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (India) has started supplying this gas mixture to
about 100,000 people for cooking purposes.
(d) Heavy Metal's Pollution Control:
Certain heavy metals like mercury, lead and cadmium are among the most harmful pollutants
disposed off in waste-effluents by modern industries. Mercury causes metal poisoning which
attacks the nervous system of patients. Though heavy metals are as toxic to most types of micro
organisms as they are to animals including humans, there are some algal and bacterial species

which avidly extract these metals from their surrounding. Biotechnologists are creating new
biotechnological methodologies which could be used to purify metal laden effluents.
The biotechnologists are seriously thinking to grow metal-extracting forms of microorganisms,
particularly algal forms, in ponds filled with heavy metal containing factory effluents and
suitable nutrients. This would allow the microorganisms to extract metals from their
surroundings and sequester them inside their cell membrane.
Finally, these microorganisms would be filtered from their liquid environment and deposited in
special dumps, e.g. Thiobacillus bacteria can accumulate silver. A certain amount of
silverminevitably appears in waste waters from film factories and other industrial sites. The
Thiobacillus bacteria could collect this wasted silver and provide it for re use. This way they
could reduce the losses of this expensive resource.
(e) Acid rain Pollution Control:
Sulphur-dioxide, an air pollutant is produced when materials containing sulphur, especially coal,
are burned. Sulphur dioxide when released into the air, dissolves in water droplets and forms
sulphuric acid (acid rain). Its harmful effects are partly attributable to a lowering of pH and
partly because it releases soluble aluminium salts into the environment in toxic quantities.
However, the acid rain accumulates in lakes scattered generally in a wide area of hundred
kilometers from the source of pollution, and kills fish and plants in vast numbers. Several types
of bacteria, specially those that inhabit hot water springs have a great appetite for sulphur
compounds, from which they derive energy. If such bacteria are put to coal, their activities
would separate much of the sulphur from high-sulphur coal. This would result in sulphur free
(iii) Biotechnological production methods, which are intrinsically less polluting, can be
employed to replace conventional methods. By this the hazards of pollution can be brought very
much under control. For instance, the conventional processes for manufacturing chemicals for
the plastic industry use oil based raw material, some of which inevitably escape to pollute the
This can be checked by replacing the conventional methods by biotechnological methods in
which, however, microbes are fed on innocuous raw materials, e.g. sugars (glucose) in
manufacturing chemicals for the plastic industry. Another example is that, at present, the
conversion of alkenes to alkene oxide (which is used for polymerization form plastics) is
accomplished by purely chemical techniques but use of microbial enzymes for this conversion is
on the horizon. A Californian firm, namely, Cetus employs a series of three microbial enzymes.
Alkene oxide A more promising biotechnological process to convert alkenes to alkene oxides
has been patented in 1981 by scientists from the Waswick University (UK). These scientists
discovered a bacterium namely Methylococcus capsulatus which can add oxygen to alkenes.
When this microorganism is supplied with ethylase or propylene gases, it inserts an oxygen
atom into each molecule of these gases to produce ethylene oxide or propylene oxide

respectively. This is thermophillic bacteria which lives upto 45C, upto which the oxides are
gaseous and it is much simpler to collect product as a gas than as liquid because the latter is
mixed in with all the other materials in fermentation apparatus.

FUTURE IN MICROBIOLOGY Presently, and for the foreseeable future, microbiologists will
face many challenges to solve many of societys problems e.g.; 1- Combating disease 2Reducing environmental pollution 3- Maintaining/improving the worlds food supply