The Microbe World

What are Microbes?             |              Where Do They Live?

Microbes are everywhere - a largely unseen world of living things that support life processes. "The Microbe World" provides a comprehensive directory of micro-organisms and their activities.
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What microbes have you been eating? Without microbes, eating would not be fun. Many tasty foods, including cheese, chocolate, tea, bread, root beer, and many others are produced with the help of microbes.

Microbes are used to help preserve foods. Many microbes preserve foods by a process called "fermentation." Fermentation is the conversion of sugars to simpler compounds by microbes under conditions with no oxygen. Microbes gain energy in this process, just as we gain energy by breathing.

Some of the fun foods include:

Beer - Grains, such as barley, are converted to beer with the help of yeast. Hops, (flowers of hops vine), are added for flavoring and to prevent the growth of unwanted microbes that would otherwise ruin the beer.

Yeast - Saccharomyces cereviceae, or yeast, is a fungus. When grown without air, yeast produces alcohol (ethanol).

Bread - The same organism used to make beer can also be used to make bread. Bread is made from grains fermented with yeast. Kneading bread gives oxygen to the yeast so it can produce carbon dioxide so bread will rise. The yeast produce the gas carbon dioxide and the alcohol ethanol. The carbon dioxide gas makes the bread rise. The ethanol evaporates during baking.

Chocolate - Chocolate is prepared with the help of microbes. Chocolate comes from the seeds of cacao trees. These seeds are in a white fleshy pod. To get the seeds out of the pod, the pod is allowed to ferment with naturally occurring microbes that include yeasts and bacteria that produce an acid that helps to eat away the seed pod cacao beans.

Natto - A favorite food of some Japanese, naato is served with rice. This mucus-like mush that smells like ammonia is made by the action of microbes on soybeans that have been soaked in water.

Wine - Fruit juice is converted to wine with the help of yeast. The same microbe used to make wine can also be used to make bread.

Yogurt - Yogurt is made from fermented milk. Milk is rich in sugars, particularly the sugar lactose. Since microbes like sugars, milk is a great feast for microbes. Lactobacilli are the bacteria that convert milk to yogurt. In the process of using the milk sugar, Lactobacillus produces acid which makes the yogurt sour and a less suitable place for other microbes.

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