Microorganisms play an important role in our life: helps us to digest our food, decompose wastes and participate in various life cycles

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Microorganisms play an important role in our life: helps us to digest our food, decompose wastes and participate in various life cycles. They are diverse and have adapted to inhabit different environments including extreme conditions, such as hot vents under the ocean to ice caps; hence known as extremophiles. There are more microorganisms present in us than there are cells, and the various microorganisms are bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa. Many people associate microorganisms as death and diseases causing agents; also frequently compared to dirt. Although some microorganisms are responsible for causing diseases, most microorganisms’ original hosts are not the human body so are not pathogenic, but commensal. This essay will discuss the numerous beneficial microorganisms that carry out processes in biotechnology, agriculture, industries and environment; necessary to sustain life. First of all, essential uses of microorganisms are seen in the environment, as they play a vital role in many of the nutrient cycles. For instance, carbon fixation from the atmosphere during the carbon cycle by autotrophic bacteria, such as cyanobacteria; synthesizes organic molecules for other organisms and release oxygen for our consumption. In addition, microorganisms are vital participants of the food chain since they act as decomposers; breaking down dead organisms and organic materials and releasing minerals for uptake by living organisms and CO2 back into the atmosphere for photosynthetic organisms. Microorganisms, known as methanogens, influence the carbon cycle by converting CO2 in their cells to methane and releasing it into atmosphere; thus increasing methane concentration whereas methanothrophs consume methane from the atmosphere, leading to a decrease in the greenhouse gas and global warming (Prescott, 1999). Involvement of microorganisms in the nitrogen cycle demonstrates that they are not just beneficial for humans, but are significant to plants as well; especially diazotrophs. Plants and diazotrophs have developed a symbiotic relationship, for example, Rhizobium present in the nodules on legume roots, fixes nitrogen enabling the plant to flourish in nitrogen-deficient grounds. Microorganisms are crucial for all three steps of nitrogen cycle: firstly, Nitrosomonas and Nitrosococcus convert ammonium ions to nitrite and Nitrobacter convert nitrite to nitrate during nitrification; secondly, during denitrification Pseudomonas denitrificans reduces nitrate to nitrogen gas and thirdly nitrogen fixation, with the diazotrophs reducing nitrogen from the air into ammonia; utilized by the plants to synthesize DNA and amino acid. Another microorganism interacting with the plants are mycorrhizal fungi, which forms a symbiotic relationship
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with plant roots. This association is beneficial for plants as fungal hyphae increases surface area enabling the plant roots to absorb more nutrients; also advantageous to fungi since they gain sugars produced by plants during photosynthesis (Atlas &ump; Bartha, 1998).Moreover, microorganisms digest harmful chemicals, such as pollutants and chemical wastes produced by the industry through a process known as bioremediation; thus protecting the environment and human health. In this process, microorganisms grow over a solid substrate to form a biofilm, through which the fluid containing the contaminants passes through, so that the enzymes produced by the microorganism can degrade the ...

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