Industrial Importance of Fungi

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Chapter: Pharmaceutical Microbiology : Nutrition, Cultivation and Isolation of microorganisms : Bacteria-Actinomycetes-Fungi-Viruses

There are several vital and important industrial importance of fungi, which shall be enumerated briefly as under :


Industrial Importance of Fungi

 

There are several vital and important industrial importance of fungi, which shall be enumerated briefly as under :

 

1. Production of Wines and Beer

 

Natural yeasts have been employed over the centuries in Italy and France, to ferment fruit juices (wines) or cereal products viz., malt (silent alcohol) in the commercial production of various types of world-class whiskies, rums, vodkas, brandies, gins, and the like. The high-tech industrial manu-facturers of today largely make use of the critical and effective pasteurization of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

 

In the production of wine and beer, the lower temperature favours the fermentation of yeast. Under these circumstances the organisms (bacteria) are usually discouraged due to two major reasons, namely :

 

(a) acidity of the fermentation medium, and

 

(b) addition of hops that exert a mild inhibitory action to the microorganisms.

 

Thus, the fermentation invariably takes place under the anaerobic conditions thereby giving rise to the production of alcohol (i.e., ethanol).

 

Examples : Following are certain typical examples of alcohols commonly used in the manufac-ture of ‘alcoholic beverages’, such as :

 

(i) Silent Spirits — Spirits obtained by the fractional distilation of alcohol produced by fruit or cereal fermentation.

 

(ii) Brandy — obtained from wine.

 

(iii) Whisky — obtained from malted cereals (Barley).

 

(iv) Rum — obtained from fermented molasses (i.e., a by product from sugar-industry containing unrecoverable sugar upto 8–10%).

 

2. Production of Bakery Products

 

The baker, strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae are meticulously selected for their specific high production of CO2 under the aerobic parameters. In actual practice, the Baker’s Yeast is particularly manufactured for bread-making, and is available commonly as ‘dried yeast’ or ‘compressed yeast’. These also find their abundant use as a food supplement by virtue of the fact that are fairly rich in Vitamin B variants.

 

3. Production of Cheeses

 

There are certain typical fungi which are specifically important in the manufacture of cheeses.

 

Example : The mould Penicillium roqueforti is usually employed in the production of the blue-veined cheeses. In actual practice, the spores of the fungus are normally used to inoculate the cheese, that is subsequently ‘ripened’ at 9°C in order to discourage the very growth of organisms other than the Penicillium. Because, the moulds happen to be of aerobic nature, adequate perforations are carefully made in the main bulk of the cheese so as to allow the passage of air to gain entry. However, the decomposition of fat takes place to impart these cheeses a characteristic flavour.

 

Interestingly, the mould Penicillium comemberti grows very much on the surface of the cheese, and develops inwards producing the characteristic liquefaction and softening of the surface, i.e., in contrast to the aforesaid P. roqueforti that grows within the body of the cheese.

 

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