What are microorganisms?

Find out what microorganisms are, how we all depend on them, and how Novozymes can put them to good use.

The beneficial microorganisms

Microorganisms are microscopic, living, single-celled organisms such as bacteria. Ubiquitous throughout the world, microorganisms play a vital role in supporting and maintaining nature and life. Although some bacteria are harmful, the vast majority are not harmful, but in fact beneficial. They keep nature clean by removing toxins from water and soil, and degrade organic matter from dead plants and animals. In the human body they aid in digestion and help prevent invasion by harmful bacteria. Without bacteria, life would not be possible.
 

Microorganisms make the world go ‘round

Microorganisms were the first living creatures on earth. It is estimated there are a total of 5 nonillion microorganisms on earth (5x1020). You will find nearly 10 million a millilitre of ocean water and 40 million in a gram of soil. They are also ubiquitous on the human body. There are 40 million microorganisms in a millilitre of saliva and make up 10% of a human’s total dry weight. In many cases, animals not only live with microbes, but our health is dependent on them (gut bacteria, immune system development, etc.). All living organisms are dependent on microorganisms and their biochemical process. Research has long suggested that microbes help humans by doing things like protecting us from allergies and preventing the spread of malaria. The more we learn about them the more phenomenal these microscopic, single celled-organisms become. They may even be the key to detecting landmines and making radioactive metals inert.
 

Microorganisms are living organisms

Novozymes harnesses the natural capabilities of live, beneficial bacteria to help degrade and remove organics that ordinary cleaners or products miss. Novozymes’ liquid products contain live bacteria in a dormant state called spores, while dry products may contain both dormant and nondormant (active) bacteria. All of the bacteria used in Novozymes  products are considered safe and nonpathogenic (do not cause disease/illness in healthy individuals) and are in the Biosafety Level 1 containment group, which means they pose a low risk to individuals and communities. It is highly unlikely they will cause disease in immunocompetent humans or animals.
 

Found in nature, refined in the lab

Microorganisms produced by Novozymes are initially isolated from the environment (water, soil, and air). Microorganisms are selected based on their natural abilities to degrade certain substrates. The most effective strain is then selected, fermented, and sold to customers in dry or liquid form.
 

Putting microorganisms to work

The beneficial microorganisms in Novozymes products perform their work by producing enzymes. They provide an intelligent, efficient system by detecting the organics present in the application and only producing the enzymes needed to break down these organics. The degradation of organics will not be immediate since the microorganisms will need time to adapt to the new environment and then produce enzymes. While enzymes generally carry out a single reaction, our beneficial microorganisms degrade the organic substrates into water and carbon dioxide.
 
Some beneficial microorganisms can form spores that are dormant (not metabolically active). The spores will only become active when certain conditions, nutrients, and organics (food sources) are available. Once the spores become active (vegetative), the beneficial microorganisms are ready to synthesize the appropriate enzyme to degrade the substrate. The microorganisms will continue to work until all the organics have been exhausted or the conditions become unfavorable. Some will go back to the spore (dormant) state, and some will die off.