Unit 10: Applied Microbiology
In this last unit, we will learn about other major sub-fields of microbiology, including environmental microbiology, biotechnology, and microbial food preparation. We briefly touched upon these topics in our introduction, but we will now go through them in more detail. We will also consider some of the many applications of microbiology. Note that bacteria and fungi (yeast) are used to make vitamins, antibiotics, and beer and to clean up petroleum.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 7 hours.
Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
- explain how microorganisms are used to clean water in oil spills and in sewage treatment;
- describe how microorganisms are used in the fermentation process to make foods, beverages, and biofuels; and
- list examples of microorganisms used in industry to create various products.
10.1: Environmental Microbiology
Read this article on how oil spills are cleaned up by the process of bioremediation. Follow the links in the "Why Bioremediation Works” section; these links will take you to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reports. Study the introductory paragraph on each of the following USGS pages and "Project Headlines” pages: for "Crude Oil Contamination in the Shallow Subsurface: Bemidji, Minnesota,” study the project headline "Predicting Plume Growth rates;” for "Sewage-Contaminated Ground Water - Cape Cod, Massachusetts,” study the project headlines "Hydrogen Measured in a New Test for Determining Subsurface Microbiological Activity at Contamination Sites” and "Decades Required for Natural Processes to Clean Wastewater-Contaminated Ground Water;” and for "San Francisco Bay Estuary Priority Ecosystem Study,” study the project headline "Phytoplankton in Coastal Waters and Global Climate Change?”
10.1.2: Sewage Treatment
Read this article to learn how wastes are treated and disposed of. Follow the "Chlorination" and "Eutrophication" links, and study these sections as well.
10.2: Food Microbiology
10.2.1: Aseptic Packaging
Read this introduction to learn about how we ensure that the food that we eat is packaged in a manner that will prevent microbial contamination. This document was prepared by the FDA to act as a guide for industries involved in packaging food.
Study this laboratory guide, which explains how microbiology is used in the preparation of foods such as yogurt, beer, and sauerkraut. Directions are even given as recipes so you can make your own. Let's get cooking!
Complete the following assessments: "Lactic Acid Production," "Pyruvate/ Lactate Ratio," and "Fermentation" problems. These are multiple-choice assessments. Choosing an option will bring you to a page with explanation. Read the explanation, if any, and return to the multiple-choice assessment. Be sure to complete all problems.
10.3: Industrial Microbiology
Study this resource by clicking on the links on the left sidebar and reading each section from "Fermentation & Human History," "Beer," "Chocolate" and "Discover a New Antibiotic."
10.3.1: Industrial Products of Microbes
Watch Parts I-IV of the lecture and take notes.
Read this article about the various types of microbes that are used during composting.
Watch the slides in this video, which discuss bioconversion.
Read the article and watch the video to learn about biofuels and the research that is being done to create this new source of energy.