Biology 3 - 13.6 Medicine made from microbes

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Micro-organisms can be grown in large vessels to produce useful substances such as medicine, e.g. antibiotics. Industrial fermenters tend to have:

  • an air supply, to provide oxygen for the micro-organisms so that they can respire aerobically
  • a stirrer to keep the micro-organisms constantly in suspension and make sure that they maintain an even temperature
  • a water-cooled jacket to remove heat produced by the respiring micro-organisms
  • instruments to monitor factors such as pH and temperature


Penicillin is an antibiotic that is made by growing the mould Penicillium. This is grown in a fermenter. The medium it is grown in contains sugar and other nutrients e.g a source of nitrogen. The Penicillium only stars to make penicillin…


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