In environmental microbiology, bacteria are used to bioremediate wastes in contaminated soil and water. Wastewater-treatment facilities utilize such bacteria to break down the organic matter that is present in sewage. In aquaculture, beneficial bacterial inoculants digest fish and shrimp wastes that can be toxic to animals causing slower growth and even mortality. In agriculture, bacterial inoculants help preserve silage, can biologically digest thatch in turf and can reduce manure odors in hog and cattle operations. Bacteria are nature’s waste treatment army and best of all, they work efficiently and cheaply.
While some products utilize individual strains of microorganisms, microbes work best in mixtures or consortiums. Such microbial ecosystems work synergistically, efficiently and effectively handling remediation tasks, and Epicore makes a number of products using such ecosystems.
The Essence of Epicore BioNetworks Inc.
Microbiology: Epicore operates a microbiology research and development laboratory at its corporate headquarters in New Jersey, USA. The laboratory oversees the quality of Epicore's biological products and actively develops new ones for new and emerging markets.
Chemistry: Epicore BioNetworks' chemistry capabilities complement its microbiological competence. Specialized skillsets in chemical manipulation enable Epicore to formulate the most effective and stable products available on the market today.
Engineering: To back its own manufacturing processes and to support servicing the aquaculture and other client industries, Epicore relies on extensive engineering skills.
Nutrition: Epicore is committed to the development of nutritional products that meet human and animal nutritional needs. Development is ongoing and based on the chemical and engineering prowess achieved in our microbial work.
Man and Microorganisms
Long before man knew about the microbial world – about such things as bacteria, fungi and yeast – he used fermentation processes to make bread and brew alcoholic beverages. Brewing was an accomplished art as long ago as when the pharaohs ruled ancient Egypt. In Greece and Rome, people used mushrooms for food but could not explain how they grew without seeds. Because mushrooms appeared to grow by magic, they were considered to be children of the Gods. The existence of diseases that were deadly to humans, plants and animals was known and feared but not understood.
The actuality of creatures too small to be seen with the naked eye could only be suspected, until the discovery of the microscope. The first microscope was discovered in 1590 but it was not until 1683 that Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch amateur microscope builder, became the first person to observe and describe bacteria. As a result, an exciting new microbial world was available for exploration. These discoveries had impacts on virtually every aspect of modern man’s life, from health and medicine to agriculture and food production.
Man used microorganisms with scientific precision for only about 75 years, isolating, identifying and developing bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi and yeasts. Microbes can manufacture proteins, amino acids, fats and vitamins which are used as food and feed supplements for animals and humans; and they can fix atmospheric nitrogen to enrich soils resulting in more abundant food supplies. Microbes can also produce steroids and antibiotics for fighting disease. Bacteria can even be cloned to produce life-saving drugs, such as insulin.
Modern Industrial Biotechnology
The history of this market goes back approximately 50 years, as scientists worldwide searched for naturally occurring processes that would safely and efficiently address the problems associated with waste disposal. They found that nature contains many strains of bacteria that digest vast quantities of waste. Through industrial microbial fermentations, microbiologists and bioengineers concentrate these valuable organisms which are inherently scattered in nature. Although bacteria are found virtually everywhere, the challenge was to select and to combine the right ones that would be highly productive and be capable of surviving the rigors of an adverse work environment. This field of research, known as applied environmental biotechnology or bioremediation, utilizes synergistic teams of microorganisma or micorbial ecosystems, as they are called, to digest organic waste, the by-products of which are water and harmless carbon dioxide.
As the world’s population expands, so too does the volume of waste that must be propertly disposed of. Today, only a small percentage of the world’s water is potable and four fifths of all that water is used for agriculture. Public, commercial and industrial wastewater is processed in a wastewater plant and then discharged into rivers, lakes and streams. Solid wastes are typically burned or buried in landfills where some will never biodegrade. Landfills are reaching capacity, years in advance of their design and operating permits. Rainwater that leaches through landfills and makes its way to the water table is polluting fresh water. The Environmental Protection Agency is exerting more pressure on landfill operators to be in compliance, which in turn increases the cost of dumping. Landfills, incineration and ocean dumping are common disposal methods that have had a negative impact upon our environment.
Out of concern for our environment, the industrial biotechnology industry was born. Biotechnology and its products, services and processes are quickly becoming the preferred alternatives over common disposal methods that are now considered outdated.