Bacteria are considered to be harmful but also are of great importance to all the living beings including humans and the natural environment. These bacteria are the most robust unicellular organisms which continue their survival even in the severe adverse conditions like extreme temperatures (high or low), starvation, droughts etc. They can do this because of their ability to transform into metabolically inert yet live forms (state) namely spores. Bacteria are the boon to the environment and nature without whom the surroundings around us could not have been clean and tidy. They are also of vital importance for humans, plants and animals in many ways as they contribute to some extent in their body physiology, metabolism and also other ways.
Importance of bacteria for environment:
♠ Saprophytic bacteria are natural scavengers on the earth and atmosphere. They decay any dead and waste matter on the surface of the earth and in the soil. Hence there is no accumulation of dead corpse of animals over so long years of emergence of life on earth.
♠ Further they degrade any chemical or biochemical fallen on the soil and there by decontaminate the valuable soil and make it fit for growth of plants & animal safe survival on the earth. Even the vast amount of pesticides used in farms are degraded over a period of weeks in the soil or else the soil would be toxic for further use.
♠ They are important source of vegetative nutrition in marine environment. They provide major & micro-nutrients required for sustenance of marine animals. I.e. they form the starting point of marine food chain.
Importance of bacteria for plants:
♦ Bacteria are helpful for plants. They render the soil suitable for growth of plants. They breakdown any organic matter so that the plants receive essential mineral elements for growth.
♦ They are important contribution for formation of humus i.e. fertile soil which contributes to efficient growth of plants.
♦ Some bacteria help fix nitrogen in the roots of few plants by taking it from air. Ex: Rhizobium bacteria.
Importance of bacteria for animals:
• Bacteria like Entero-coli live in the gut intestines of animals in symbiotic fashion. They help in degradation of unused food and help in its expulsion from body.
• Some bacteria like E.coli which are present in the body resist growth of harmful bacteria like typhoid.
Importance of bacteria for industrial & commercial purposes:
♠ For beverage industry: For this industry bacteria contribute in fermentation of wine used as beverages to form alcohol.
♠ In dairy industry and homes ferments milk to produce curd.
♠ When bacteria like blue-green algae are left into agriculture soil, they fix natural manure in the form of nitrogen from air for better growth and yield of crops.
Importance of bacteria for health and medicine industry
* For antibiotic production: Antibiotics were found to be produced by bacteria and these antibiotics could rescue people form other harmful and pathogenic bacteria. Initially most antibiotics were produced by fermenting large cultures of bacteria. Now synthetic ones are in large supply.
* For production of vaccines: Bacteria are used to produce vaccines by either seperating their antigens or sometimes dead form or else even live one with lack of pathogenic character.
* For manufacturing products of genetic engineering: Products like insulin, vitamin-B12, etc. are supplied in large scale in continuous basis due to their manufacture using genetically modified bacteria.