Industrially Important Strains And Products

Many products are or have been produced by fermentation in commercial quantities (2-4). Food products, industrial bulk chemicals, solvents, enzymes, and amino acids are produced with the help of anaerobic microorganisms. In this work, the emphasis is on those processes carried out by anaerobes, which generally means that important pathways yield useful products under conditions where oxygen is not required. However, oxygen is present in modest quantities to enhance microbial growth in some cases. Alternative manufacturing processes have been developed for some products; they can be produced by fermentation and by chemical processes that do not require microorganisms. Often these products are made by a microbial process in some countries and a chemical process in other countries; both processes may be used in the same country as well. The choice may depend on local raw materials, taxes, and scale of operation; often local economics determines which process is used.

Table 2 lists several compounds produced by anaerobes and some of the microorganisms that can produce significant quantities of the product. The pathways by which these products are produced have been investigated; many of the well-known industrially important pathways such as the Embden-Meyerhof-Parnas pathway are described in detail elsewhere (2,6,7). Ethanol is produced in large quantities for use as a motor fuel in several countries (2,68). Methane is often produced by mixed cultures as a product of anaerobic digestion of waste materials. Lactic acid is

Table 2. Anaerobic Fermentation Products and Microorganisms That Can Produce Significant Quantities of the Product

Product

Microorganism

Methane

Methanobacterium

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