🧫 Environmental control of metabolism


Introduction

Metabolism of microorganisms

Secondary metabolism

Aseptic technique

Yummy food

Conditions

Measuring growth


Introduction

Growing microorganisms has been a fundamental element of much of experimental biology, as well as the underpinning of many modern molecular biology techniques. Perhaps we have a sample of earth that we want to analyse to find a new microorganism with antibacterial properties. Perhaps we are testing a patient sample for an infectious agent. Most likely, we are culturing a safe strain of E. coli that has been genetically modified to produce a protein of interest like human insulin that we can isolate from it and administer to patients.

Metabolism of microorganisms

This is how the metabolism of microorganisms can be used to obtain specific biological products. Culturing them is the go-to method because they are very adaptable, easy to use and have fast growth. Therefore, a variety of environmental factors can be fine-tuned in the lab to obtain specific outcomes or products from various types of microorganisms including archaea, bacteria and eukaryotes.

Secondary metabolism

Secondary metabolism of microorganisms represents the non-basic pathways in metabolism that may not be entirely necessary for survival. Products of this include antibiotics produced by e.g. fungi against bacteria, and pigments.

Secondary metabolism can be advantageous as it doesn’t focus on growth needs, and can instead provide better adaptations in the environment i.e. ecological advantage through better longer term outlook, reproduction and other metabolites non-essential to survival with an otherwise significant effect on the overall outcome of a species’ ability to thrive in its environment. On the other hand, some secondary metabolites may not make a difference either way at a given time.Β 

Aseptic technique

Aseptic means free of contamination. There are hundreds of fungal spores in the air we breathe at all times. There are bacteria and viruses everywhere. If we are to culture….