What Is Fermentation


What is fermentation? This question has been bothering many scientists since the dawn of scientific study of the physical and chemical properties of living things. Fermentation is a dynamic process which produces complex chemical changes in organic substances through the activity of particular enzymes. In biochemistry, it very narrowly fits into the domain of microorganisms where it is defined as the separation of energy from non-carbohydrates in the presence of oxygen. In other words, what is fermentation?

The key feature of what is fermentation is the presence of high concentrations of carbon dioxide, which is why the original liquid state of a fermented food product (e.g., wine or beer) is referred to as fermentation. The presence of excess or too little oxygen causes the growth of certain anaerobic bacteria which break down the sugars present in the product, releasing the alcohol which is the end product of the fermentation. Without oxygen, however, the bacteria are unable to grow. The process of fermentation, therefore, consumes the sugar contained in the product resulting in alcohol (and in many cases vinegar as well).

In the study of the physical and chemical properties of living things, what is fermentation is considered to be a major factor. When the process of fermentation is speeded up, there are usually signs of fermentation such as bubbling or boiling. This is because microorganisms need specific nutrients in order to grow properly. As the sugars are broken down, they are separated from one another by the existence of anaerobic bacteria which consume the sugars available for growth by utilizing them as a source of food.

There are a number of different species of microorganisms which can cause fermentation. The two most common are known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae – which is found in most fresh fruits and vegetables and S. cerevisiae – which is found in beer. Most bacteria belong to the F. bruxenalis group; this refers to the group of aerobic bacteria which live in eukaryotic algae called plastid. Eukaryotic algae are very important for the nutrition of plant and animal life, but they are not essential to them.

An alternative explanation for what is fermentation is that of the aerobic environment necessary for a microorganism to grow. To demonstrate this, imagine what would happen if you left sugar on a piece of sugar cake without oxygen for an extended period of time – would the sugar to crystallize? If so, we have evidence that indicates that sugars do undergo carbon metabolism (the breakdown of a carbon substance into simpler compounds such as glycogen or glucose) without oxygen. What is fermentation is therefore the breakdown of sugars using the glucose as a source of energy which is the result of the complex sugar chemistry that takes place in the mitochondria of the bacteria.

The second step of fermentation is the conversion of simple sugars (glucose, galactose and fructose) into more complex sugars (polysaccharides) using the enzyme amylase. Amylase works in two ways: first it combines sugars via polysaccharide synthesis, and second it breaks down the amylose via a process called dehydration. As we noted above, sugars can undergo carbon fermentation without oxygen being present, but only at a very slow rate. When the sugar mixture reaches a high concentration of carbon dioxide, the process stops because CO2 is toxic to the bacteria. Thus, what is fermentation is the process by which the bacteria convert sugars to other products, such as ethanol.

The third step of fermentation, and one which is highly important if you want to make alcoholic beverages such as beer, is the production of acetic acid. Acetic acid is carbon dioxide in an acetic acid solution. Most microorganisms that ferment simple sugars in the range of about 5% to about 60% will use acetic acid for energy. It’s what they do in order to metabolize sugars and turn them into alcohol.

It’s not all pretty and dandy, though. Fermentation also involves a series of chemical processes, and any microorganisms that can tolerate an environment conducive to that chemical process (which can be very acidic or very alkaline) are going to be good candidates for fermentation. For example, some bacteria have been shown to be capable of using cellulose as a source of energy. This cellulose, derived from wood products such as bamboo, could potentially be the next big thing in biofuels, since it’s a nonrenewable source of energy. So, if you’re interested in finding out what is fermentation, you might as well start with the basic questions: what is aerobic fermentation, what is pyrophosphate metabolism, how are sugars fermented, and what is cellulose going to be the next big biofuel?