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Sunday, April 1, 2007

Organisms used in microbial processes

o Bacteria:

o Characteristics: Single celled organisms: spherical, rod and spiral forms. Most of them are saprophytes

Uses: break down organic mater and assist soil fertility, waste disposal, biogas production and source of antibiotics and other useful chemicals

o Fungi:

o Characteristics: plants devoid of chlorophylls; variety of forms; microscopic molds, mildews, rusts and smuts; mushrooms and puffballs.

o Uses: assisting recycling cellulose, lignin and other complex plant constituents; yeasts and mushrooms are important in food and nutrition; many are also used in chemical and pharmaceutical industries; tools in genetics and biotechnology; antagonists for biological control of pests and diseases.

o Algae:

o Characteristics: undifferentiated plants (Thallophytes)

o Uses: red and brown sea weeds are important foods. Red algae produce agar. Some blue green algae fix nitrogen. Major food for ocean fishes. Yields bio-fertilizers, bioactive compounds and functional foods.

o Protozoa:

o Characteristics: microscopic animals. Single celled or groups of similar cells, found in fresh and sea water, in soils and as parasites in animals, man and some plants.

o Uses: assist in breakdown of organic matter such as cellulose in ruminant nutrition.

o Viruses:

o Characteristics: sub microscopic forms; considered intermediate between living and non living. Infective agents, capable of multiplying only in living cells; composed of proteins and nucleic acids.

o Uses: important as carriers of genetic information. Also cause diseases in insects and other pests. Research is directed to their use in biological pest control.