The benefits of Microbiology

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Use of bacteria as probiotics and pre-biotics

Probiotics' refers to useful, live bacteria consumed in small amounts for their potential benefits on health. Pre-biotics refer to certain substances which are consumed in order to promote the growth of commensal bacteria in the body with the aim of obtaining increased benefits on human health. Commensal bacteria or friendly bacteria present in out intestines can help in the process of digestion. In the United States, the probiotic bacteria are available in form of conventional dairy foods supplemented with these bacteria or as dietary supplements in the form of capsules, powder or tablets .A special branch of microbiology deals with study and manufacture of such pro-biotic and pre-biotic bacteria.

Vitamin synthesis

Bacteria like E.coli present in human colon are involved in synthesis of vitamins like vitamin B12, folic acid, biotin and K, which may be used by the host. Such bacteria are often used for commercial preparation of vitamins like riboflavin.

Use of bacteria in dairy and food industry

Bacteria, especially the lactic acid producing lactobacillus are specially used in
preparation of food stuffs involving the process of fermentation e.g. yogurts, cheese, breads, fermented soy sauces, pickles, soy sauces etc.

Use of Microbiology in Agriculture and farming
Symbiotically associated bacteria are able to biologically convert nitrogen gas present in the atmosphere into ammonia which helps in enriching the soil and promotes optimal growth of plants. Such bacteria are useful in the areas of agriculture and farming and increasing crop yield without use of chemical fertilizers. Bacteria are also important for production of compost which is decayed ganic matter and serves as a rich source of nutrition for the plants.
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DNA sequencing and genomics

Thursday, January 21, 2010

One of the most fundamental technologies developed to study genetics, DNA sequencing allows researchers to determine the sequence of nucleotides in DNA fragments. Developed in 1977 by Frederick Sanger and coworkers, chain-termination sequencing is now routinely used to sequence DNA fragments. With this technology, researchers have been able to study the molecular sequences associated with many human diseases.

As sequencing has become less expensive, researchers have sequenced the genomes of many organisms, using computational tools to stitch together the sequences of many different fragments (a process called genome assembly). These technologies were used to sequence the human genome, leading to the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003. New high-throughput sequencing technologies are dramatically lowering the cost of DNA sequencing, with many researchers hoping to bring the cost of resequencing a human genome down to a thousand dollars.

The large amount of sequence data available has created the field of genomics, research that uses computational tools to search for and analyze patterns in the full genomes of organisms. Genomics can also be considered a subfield of bioinformatics, which uses computational approaches to analyze large sets of biological data.
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