I'll never use this stuff.....

Want to place a bet on that? 

Ever thought about having your own micro-brew beer? 

Do you like bread?

Ever spread honey on your toast? Or put blue cheese  on your salad? Or cheese on your burger? 

That's right - they are ALL biology based. Every last one of them - and you can't do any of them without it. No plastic substitutes need apply. Let me show you.

Beer and bread require a very versatile one celled fungi that we call 'yeast'. It's a first cousin to mushrooms and toadstools, true, but a fungi it is. It is also a PLANT. We do many things with yeasts-these two just happen to make alcohol and carbon dioxide very reliably. We have also learned how to make yeasts do some pretty sophisticated things, too - like produce vaccines and some drugs. 

Honey? That's made by honeybees, of course, but it is how they do it that is fascinating. They gather lots of nectar (which isn't all that sweet) and put it into little wax cups. Those wax cups actually draw out the extra water and leave the sugar inside. The result is the honey. Pretty cool!

Cheese is cheese, right? Wrong. While all "real" cheese is made from milk from a mammal (cow, goat, llama, or whatever), not all cheese is made the same way. For example, Blue cheese is one of the ones made by molds (here come the fungi again!). That's why it has blue streaks through it. Cheddar, American, Provolone, etc. are made by using specialized bacterial cultures (no, they won't make you sick) that provide the characteristic taste and texture. 

Biology is like math - it's all around us and we use it every single day. We might not realize it. But as a wise man once said "The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper." 


Ellen W.

The W-right Place for Biology & some other science questions

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