Differences Between Bacteria and Enzymes Part 1 - Great Lakes Bio Systems, Inc.
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Great Lakes Bio Systems, Inc.

Differences Between Bacteria and Enzymes Part 1

Modern cleaning, deodorizing, and water quality control products such as those used in industrial and aquaculture applications often make use of bacteria and enzymes.  These products have what could be likened to an identity crisis, as few people are aware of the differences between bacteria and enzymes. A common misconception is that enzymes are bacteria.  Obviously, this is not the case but how does one explain the differences between them?

What are Bacteria?

The first images that spring to mind for most people upon hearing the word “bacteria,” generally involve disease or infection.  It is a fact that there are some harmful and potentially lethal types of bacteria on the planet, but it is incorrect to consider bacteria entirely harmful.  In fact, the vast majority of bacteria on the planet are either harmless or beneficial.  The term “bacteria,” is used to collectively describe a wide range of single celled microorganisms.  The fact that bacteria do not contain a nucleus and rarely harbor membrane-bound organelles distinguishes bacteria from other microorganisms and from human and animal cells.  It might be surprising to learn that in a human, bacterial cells outnumber human cells by a ratio of ten to one.

Bacteria exist in all environments on earth, including environments as extreme as hot springs, the polar ice caps, radioactive waste, seawater and deep within the earth’s crust.  While a great deal of study is devoted to bacteria, much of the focus has been on either of the two extremes, harmful pathogens and useful bacteria.  The vast majority of bacteria remain unclassified and unexamined.

Bacteria is extremely durable.

Functions of Useful Bacteria

Bacteria have a wide range of functions.  In life, bacteria exist throughout the body and for the most part exist in symbiosis with humans and animals.  Throughout the intestinal tract, bacteria can help to digest food including complex carbohydrates and milk protein.  They can help boost resistance to a range of stomach conditions and even help to synthesize a number of important vitamins.

In the environment, bacteria are crucial to the process of decay.  Bacteria are responsible for the breakdown of organic matter and thus a crucial component of the cycle of life.  They recover nutrients that are from decaying matter, in a sense recycling them so that they can continue to benefit life on earth.

Applications of Useful Bacteria

Bacteria can be particularly useful to a range of household and commercial applications.  Bacteria thrive in wet or damp conditions, so it is little wonder that the most common applications of bacteria are in water management solutions; especially so in the treatment of wastewater, lakes and ponds and to a lesser degree in swimming pools and spas.  Once introduced to the water environment, the bacteria will begin to replicate and produce enzymes that will break down undesirable organic matter and nutrients from the water table.  In lakes and ponds and aquaculture applications everywhere, bacteria are particularly useful in breaking down fish wastes and maintaining a healthy water environment without the use of chemicals. 

Bacteria can be assisted in their action by maintaining an environment that is most suited to them.  Maintaining a balanced pH and aerating/oxygenating the water can dramatically accelerate their activity.  If bacteria can be encouraged to thrive, then their effects will be noticed for some time.  Bacteria will continue to reproduce as long as the water conditions remain favorable to them.

Drawbacks of Using Bacteria in Water Quality Control

While bacteria provide positive solutions to common water problems, they are somewhat ineffective for use in swimming pools and spas, and in special cases even in fish or shrimp farms.  The trouble with these environments is that chemical sanitizers must be used in order to eliminate potential pathogens.  Chemical sanitizers will kill all or most of the bacteria in the water, including those that are being used to improve water quality.  While bacteria will produce the enzymes needed to break down organic matter, the bacteria must first be allowed to reproduce to a point that they produce enough enzymes to affect the water quality.  This process takes time and must begin every time the swimming pool, spa or fish pond is shocked with chlorine, bromine, or quaternary disinfectant.

Continue to Part 2 >>

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