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Small at Size, Big at Impact: Microorganisms for Sustainable Development

  • Nasib Singh
  • Joginder Singh
  • Karan Singh
Chapter

Abstract

From being the first life originated on Earth ~3.8 billion years ago to the present time, microorganisms have enormously impacted the human, animal, and plant’s lives and global biogeochemical cycles in one way or another. These are widely distributed in almost all habitats and ecosystems on Earth, including the most hostile and extreme habitats which are otherwise uninhabitable to other organisms. Domain Bacteria and Archaea are composed entirely of prokaryotic microorganisms, whereas eukaryotic microbes, viz., fungi, algae, protozoa, slime molds, and water molds, belong to domain Eukarya. Archaea and bacteria represent the majority of life-forms on our planet. Recent estimate predicts 1011–1012 microbial species on Earth of which 99.9% microbial species are yet to be cultured in the laboratory. Ocean, soil, rhizosphere, human gut, animal body, etc. are some of the most densely populated microbial habitats. Microorganisms are excellent model organisms for the study of metabolism and genetics at cellular level. Considered as Earth’s greatest chemists, microorganisms have unparalleled metabolic capabilities, extraordinary adaptability, and remarkable survival strategies which undoubtedly make them the most successful living creatures. Most microbes are beneficial to humans, plants, and animals. These contribute significantly to ensure the quality of human life and in sustaining life on our planet. Microbes have established ecologically important symbiotic and nonsymbiotic associations with themselves, humans, plants, ruminants, vertebrates, and invertebrates. Incomparable importance of microorganisms led to the origin of concepts of microbiome, hologenome, and superorganism. Microorganisms offer numerous biotechnological compounds for human, animal and agriculture, and environment sustainability. These are the source of numerous bioproducts like antibiotics, biopharmaceuticals, single-cell proteins, organic acids, biofertilizers, biopesticides, enzymes, pigments, vitamins, biofuels, biocement, and many more. Harnessing microbial capabilities is undoubtedly the best possible sustainable solution to ever-increasing challenges of balanced diet, clean air, water, energy, medicine, and healthy environment.

Keywords

Microbial diversity Sustainable development Microbiome Rhizosphere Nitrogen fixation Probiotics Microbial cell factories Biopharmaceuticals 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nasib Singh
    • 1
  • Joginder Singh
    • 2
  • Karan Singh
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology, Akal College of Basic SciencesEternal UniversityBaru SahibIndia
  2. 2.Department of Microbiology, School of Bioengineering and BiosciencesLovely Professional UniversityPhagwaraIndia
  3. 3.Department of ChemistryAkal College of Basic Sciences, Eternal UniversityBaru SahibIndia

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