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Full Version: Steps Involved in the Development of Industrial Microbiology
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Biotechnology and microbiology go hand in hand in the characterization and modification of the microorganisms for the welfare of humans and industrial uses. Molecular biology has played a vital role as recombinant DNA technology helps in modifying the genetic information of the microorganisms and design different products for industrial use. The detailed study of the molecular mechanisms within the microorganisms is very essential for approaching the genetic modification of the microorganisms. Proper selection and use of the microorganisms efficiently in the desired process requires complete understanding of the growth, metabolism, interaction with other organisms, etc.

The selection of the microorganisms plays a very important role in industrial microbiology. Most of the microorganisms have not been studied and have remained unexplored, as the microorganisms are present abundantly in the nature and environment. With the study of microbial diversity and ecology, new research studies are being conducted to explore new microorganisms that are beneficial. Various researches are conducted to increase the pool of the microorganisms that are desirable in industrial use with increased mutualistic and protocooperative relationships with higher animals and plants and with better capabilities too.

Genetic engineering has played an important role in the development of microorganisms with desirable properties. The main methods by which the genetic modification of the microorganisms is done are:
i) Mutation: in this process, the genes of the microorganisms are mutated by different methods to produce a culture of better yielding microorganisms, which yield improved products in the same or poorer conditions of growth.

ii) Protoplast fusion, in which the protoplasts of different species are fused to yield hybrids in the microorganisms that usually have asexual reproduction, for e.g. Yeast.

iii) Site directed mutagenesis, in which short fragments of DNA are inserted into the microorganisms to yield better products like proteins, enzymes with desired conditions of action, etc. For e.g. In ethanol production, lactic acid production, etc.

iv) Gene transfer between microorganisms by combinatorial biology, helps in the production of new products as well as recombinant microorganisms with new properties like antibiotic production or better production efficacy.

Modifications of gene expression and natural genetic engineering are some other methods of creation of new microorganisms with different microbial properties for their industrial use.

The preservation of the microorganisms is very essential after their selection and creation. Lyophilization is a process of freeze-drying, which helps in preserving the culture of essential microorganisms in liquid nitrogen, which is complicated, though the process maintains and preserves the viability of the cells. The selection of proper media for the growth of the selected microorganisms is very essential, as only then it will produce the desired products in optimum form. Hence, the process of industrial fermentation has been developed to culture microorganisms with desired qualities in economic way. The nutrients must be present in optimal levels and balance between the different constituents in the media is very necessary for optimum growth and formation of the microbial products. Stirred fermenters, shaking flasks, etc have been used to culture the microorganisms. For the proper growth of the microorganisms, the medium must be properly sterilized to prevent the contamination with other microorganisms, whose by products may cause toxicity to the desired microorganism. Along with the aerobic and anaerobic fermenters, dialysis culture units are also employed to remove the toxinsor waste metabolites, which may be formed during the fermentation or growth of the microorganisms and to add new substrates by diffusion through the dialysis membrane.

The microbial products may be classified into primary metabolites and secondary metabolites. Primary metabolites constitute the compounds that are synthesized by the microbes during their active growth phase, which include amino acids, proteins, enzymes, nucleotides, fermentation end products like ethanol, etc. These metabolites find application in the food and textile industries. Secondary metabolites constitute the compounds, which accumulate as waste products after the active growth phase during the nutrient limitation period. The antibiotics and mycotoxins, which are the by-products of many microorganisms, constitute the secondary metabolites. These antibiotics, amino acids, etc have played a very important role in the development of medicines and specialty compounds with medical use. Apart from these, biopolymers, biosurfactants, bioconversions (biocatalysts) are some of the other products of industrial microbiology. Moreover, the use of microbial communites in water, soil, composts, etc has been used largely for the process of environmental maintenance and to improve the agricultural production of crops.
Lyophilization or freeze drying is a process of removal of water from a product which is then frozen and placed under vacuum. In this process, there is a direct conversion of solid state to gaseous state. In this, the ice is directly converted from solid to vapor (gaseous ) state without intermidiate convertion into liquid phase. The process consists of three steps first is freezing, second is primary drying (sublimation), and last is secondary drying which is also known as desorption.

Apart from above mentioned advantages of lyophilization, they are also useful in

1) Simplifying aseptic handling as it ease in processing of a liquid.

2)The stability of any product is very critical such that expiry of product depends on it. Lyophilization enhances stability of a dry powder and other similar forms in various pharmaceutical and biological industries.

3) Lyophilization helps in removal of water without excessive heating products at higher temperature.

4) It has been observed that lyophilization enhances product stability in a dry state.

5) Many drugs and biotechnology products needs rapid dissolution and lyophilization helps in this very distinctly

Apart from these uses, lyophilization is used in manufacturing of many new parenteral products, including biotechnology derived drugs, anti-infective, and in-vitro diagnostic kits. Lyophilization had helped in stability, efficiency and safety of many drugs. These drugs includes life saving molecules like penicillins erythromycin, cephalosporins chloramphenicol and doxycycline.

Today in many pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries these lyophilized products and cultures are evaluated for various critical parameters like sterility, purity, efficiency and safety before use thus strictly adhere to various regulatory guidelines!