The microbiome refers to the totality of all microorganisms in a defined habitat. It is a topic of increasing importance for society. Particularly in the medical field, a hype has arisen around this term, for which books such as ” Darm mit Charme” (Gut with charm) or “Die stille Macht der Mikroben: How we can support the most powerful health makers at work” are instrumental. Books like these gave the general population access to microbiomes on a popular science level.
The microbiome is not only important in the medical field, but also in many industrial processes in particular. It is a treasure chest for a multitude of metabolites, the importance of which is increasingly being recognised as a cornerstone of the bioeconomy.
In 2014, the authors Koutinas et al. (2014) described that in metabolic key routes of many organisms (e.g. the so-called citric acid cycle) important metabolites are produced, which could partially replace the currently still predominant petrochemistry in the not too distant future. Due to the low sales revenue for methane, many biogas plants are dependent on a so-called “feed-in tariff” in the current economic situation, which is regulated by the “Renewable Energy Act”. In this context, extraction and use of alternative valuable metabolites is not only an alternative source of valuable material, but can also improve the economic situation for biogas plants. Important metabolites, which are listed as examples in the work of Koutinas et al. (2014), include acetic acid, propionic acid, butyric acid and medium-length fatty acids.