Microorganism, be it alga, protozoan, fungus, bacterium or virus represents a very significant member of the world’s biomes. Biomes group ecosystem(consisting of both living and non-living factors) according to similarity in climates and inhabitation by particular plants and animals. A whole lot of lifeforms are to be found in any ecosystem. But these lifeforms have to learn to co-exist with non-living factors. A story was told of a layman who plans to invest his energy in looking for ways to exterminate all of the mosquitoes on earth. When a scientist in the neighborhood told him of the importance of mosquitoes in the pollination of some specific flowers, he bowed out! The world of microorganisms presents to man a rare opportunity to learn more about those lifeforms the naked eyes could not see using a light or an electron microscope.
First, microorganisms may be used in bringing to fruition some vital chemical reactions, including baking, pickling, winemaking, and brewing. The baking process uses the fungus known as yeast to make bread dough to rise, in an oven whose temperature is in the neighborhood of 300 degrees Centigrade. Pickling is a method of preserving food by the use of anaerobic fermentation in brine(a saturated solution of sodium chloride). Winemaking is also called vinification. It is a process that makes use of fermentation to produce wines from grapes. Brewing offers man with the recipes for lager, mead, cider, and ale. In bewing, these malt beverages are made from malt and hops by grinding and boiling them before fermentation with yeasts.
Second, miroorganisms are now used to produce biogas from cow dungs and other similar wastes from poultry and piggery. The main chemical content of the biogas is methane, the common fuel for home cooking and heating. Biogas reactors are now becoming more and more common as the benefit of biogas spreads arounds the world. Bacteria are the most important microorgnisms in the production process.
Third, man keeps using the same water from different ecosystem again and again, because microorganisms are forever available to help convert the very harmful wastewaters from various sources to harmless or disease-free potable water for everyone. With science and now, specially-cultured microbes are used to biologically effect a change in the wastewater.
Ethanol is becoming a very important fuel now in the US courtesy of research and most importantly yeast. Some cars now run on biodiesel fuel. A very good example is the E85 fuel, a blend of 85 ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.
Our knowledge of genetics may never be as rich as it is today without microorganisms. Virus has shown us more facts about ribonucleic acid(RNA) and deoxiribonucleic acid(DNA) than is known before. These nucleic acids, in conjunction with protein form the bedrock of life.
Molecular biology has shown us that our knowledge of microorganisms may be put to good use to create steroids and treat skin diseases. But what are steroids? Steroids are any of a number of natural or artificial substances that regulates body functions. Skin diseases include eczema, athlete’s foot, measles. bedsores, birthmarks, chicken pox, and impetigo.
In virtually all of the ecosystems, including mountains, tundra, temperate forest, marine, desert, grassland, and savannah, miroorganisms participates actively in the carbon and nitrogen cycles. Nitrogen cycle is found in terrestrial ecosystem and is the continuous trapping of nitrogen gas by the compound of the soil and the eventual return to the atmosphere.
Finally, man can never know in totality the whole lot of importance of microorganisms, including algae, protozoans, fungi, bacteria, and viruses, in the earth’s ecosystems. But as our knowledge of science grew, fermentation processes, biogas production, wastewater treatment, and biodiesel fuel processing are some of the importance of microorganisms in the earth’s ecosystem. Others include genetics, molecular biology, and carbon and nitrogen cycles.