More recently molds have been used in industrial fermentation to make vitamins B-2 (riboflavin) and B-12, textured protein products (from in Europe) antibiotics (such as penicillin), citric acid, and gluconic acid.
Bacteria are now used to make the amino acids lysine and glutamic acid.
In 1675 the Dutch merchant Anton van Leeuwenhoek, the greatest of the early microscopists, saw and reported one-celled organisms, which he called "animacules." (Today they are called "protozoa.") The discovery electrified the scientific world of the time.
An even smaller number are used to make fermented soyfoods: the molds are species plus any or all of the species used to make fermented milk products.In ancient times fermentation joined smoking, drying, and freezing as basic and widely practiced food preservation techniques. The origins of microbiology (other than the general knowledge of fermented foods which existed worldwide since ancient times) can be traced back to the invention of the compound microscope in the late 1500s.Wang and Hesseltine (1979) note that "Probably the first fermentation were discovered accidentally when salt was incorporated with the food material, and the salt selected certain harmless microorganisms that fermented the product to give a nutritious and acceptable food." The process was taken a step further by the early Chinese who first inoculated with the basic foods with molds, which created enzymes; in salt-fermented soyfoods such as miso, soy sauce, soy nuggets, and fermented tofu, these aided salt-tolerant yeasts and bacteria?? This relatively simple tool soon revolutionized man's knowledge of the heretofore invisible microbial world.So for 150 years after van Leeuwenhoek's pioneering observations, it was hardly thought that these minute organisms could be important enough to deserve serious study.The early 1800s saw a great increase of interest in microbiology in Europe.