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  The process of fermentation (from Latin fervescere, ‘to boil’) was used by ancient civilizations in the production of bread and wine. It was thought by the ancient Greeks to be a process of maturation. It was investigated by alchemists and early chemists, notably Antoine Lavoisier, in the 18th century, who observed that it could be represented by a chemical equation. Theories explaining the mechanism behind the process were proposed only in chemical terms until Louis Pasteur\'s famous experiments, in 1876, showed that fermentation could not occur unless a sterile medium was contaminated by microorganisms. Fermentation plays a central role in modern biotechnology where single-cell organisms, particularly yeast and bacteria, are grown on a large scale for the synthesis of gentically engineered products. RB

See also enzymes.



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