Man Should Cohabit with Microorganisms …. Professor Egwari
“Microbes are not naked to the eyes; they are small and classified as either bacteria or fungus. The role these microorganism play in the sustenance of life cannot be measured and thus the need for man to move away from the realm of antibiotics in fighting them to embracing ‘Nutrobiotics’ to cohabiting with them.”
This was the position advanced by the lecturer at the 4th Inaugural Lecture of Covenant University, Professor Louis Osayenum Egwari, when he delivered his inaugural lecture with the theme; “Microbial Life in the Presence of Carbon and Oxygen: Consequences for Man.”
He stated that microbes are of importance to the continued existence of man, since only a proportion of them cause diseases and destroy articles. Their economic, social and psychological weight is unquantifiable.
The Professor of Microbiology said it was possible for man and microbes to co-exist without constituting harm to each other. According to him, “Instead of fighting microbes with antibiotics and other harmful agents, let us dwell with them in harmony and one way of achieving this is through Nutrient Replacement Technology (NRT).”
The Delta state born scholar noted that the 21st century biotechnological drive should be in this direction as it will form the basis of New Science of Nutrobiotics, which is the use of specific high affinity synthetic nutrient to satisfy microbial growth requirement.
Professor Egwari while highlighting the interplay between the three key elements of his presentation, noted that for every anaerobe that oxygen kills, it has ripple effect on the very existence of man. He posited that oxygen that gives life to man was tacitly a killer of anaerobe and this is a dilemma to existence.
According to him, anaerobes are a source of renewable energy, and anaerobic digestion process produces biogas, consisting of methane, carbon dioxide and traces of other contaminant gases.
Professor Egwari stated that the existence of life largely depends on the existence of large molecules built around chains of carbon atoms. He averred that one unique factor that makes carbon a suitable life backbone is that its primary carbon-to-carbon bond is twice as strong as a silicon-silicon bond and compared with secondary link to the side group to which it belongs.
The erudite scholar suggested that there was need for a balance to be maintained between carbon and microbial activities because even with the massive carbon sink in permafrost in the arctic region due to the effect of the earth being exposed to warming activities, microorganisms frozen for thousands of years can bounce to life and assimilate the carbon to release heat trapping gases into the atmosphere.
In his remarks, the Chancellor and Chairman, Board of Regents, Dr. David Oyedepo, commended the depth and quality of delivery, showing the importance of microbes to humanity.
Dr. Oyedepo stated that the significance of biological research endeavours into the depth of nature is ultimately geared towards exploration and maximizing the inexhaustible riches of nature itself and that is the very essence of microbiological research.
He challenged the audience to react positively to the lecture. According to him, “It is my hope that this lecture will provoke more researchers to emerge, going deeper into microbial existence with tangible products to show for it.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Charles Ayo applauded the quality of work done by the Inaugural lecturer and hoped that the audience would draw tangible lessons from the content of the lecture for a better coexistence between microbial life and man.
Professor Ayo welcomed the audience who came from far and near to grace the occasion and promised Covenant University’s continuous commitment to collaborating with like-minded institutions to drive research both within and outside of the country.
The Director General, Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), Dr. Gloria Elemo, represented by Dr. Lawal Kolawole, said the institute is ever ready to partner with Covenant University, because the very nature of the activity of the institute is research based and it would naturally find itself aligned to an institution like Covenant University being a research active University.
Dr. Kolawole said that FIIRO has over the years worked closely with Covenant University and he is sure it wouldn’t be long before the results of all the good work being done by the University becomes evident for all to see.
The inaugural lecture was graced by dignitaries from the academia, professional associations, ministries and government parastatals, as well as family, friends and colleagues of the lecturer.