What are microbes?

Explore the role of these microscopic organisms in nature and in making a wide range of industries more efficient and sustainable.

Bacteria were the first living organisms on earth. Today they’re all around us, making life possible through symbiotic interactions. We harness the power of microbes in solutions that allow our customers to do more with less.

The role of microbes in nature

Microbes are the dominant form of life on earth. They outweigh humans, all other animals, insects and plants combined. Examples of microbes include bacteria and fungi. They’re in the water we drink, the air we breathe and even within our bodies.

Although they’re often associated with dirt and disease, most microbes are beneficial. For example, microbes in nature help break down dead plants and animals. Beneficial microbes in our own bodies aid digestion and help prevent invasion by harmful microbes.

Microbes have adapted to live everywhere on earth; from the boiling waters of volcanic ocean vents to oxygen-deprived polar ice.

Types of microbes

As the world’s largest provider of microbial technologies, we use microbes to produce enzymes for industries. We’ve been collecting microbes since the 1960s, so we now have one of the world's largest proprietary strain collections.

We find different types of microbes - also known as microorganisms - by collecting soil samples from nature. We then screen these samples for new microbes. Some microbes are able to produce the right enzyme. Others grow fast and produce lots of enzymes. We need microbes that can do both. Aspergillus oryzae, the same fungus that has been used for thousands of years to make soy sauce, produces most of our enzymes. It has a huge capacity for producing enzymes.

Our microbial solutions work with nature to make a range of businesses more efficient and sustainable. See below for just a few examples of how our microbes are used in industrial, agricultural and human health solutions.

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microbes and enzymes crop illustration