Fermentation vs Anaerobic Respiration
Anaerobic respiration and fermentation are two different processes with marked distinctions between the two. However, the two processes are synonymous in some situations. Therefore, it is very important to understand the characteristics of the two processes in order to identify which is which. This article summarizes the characteristics of the two processes and performs a fair comparison at the end.
Fermentation is a process by which the energy is extracted from organic compounds using an endogenous electron acceptor. The endogenous electron acceptor is usually an organic compound, whereas oxygen acts as the electron acceptor in aerobic respiration. Energy is also extracted from organic compounds such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and other foods. Fermentation is more an economically beneficial process, as it has been used in many commercialized processes of productions such as alcohol, wine, beer, and tea. The use of fermenting bacteria is prominent in such commercialized processes. Lactic acid fermentation and alcoholic fermentation are the most well-known of this kind, where one process results lactic acid while the other yields alcohol or ethanol. Fermentation of acetic acid yields methane and carbon dioxide. Additionally, there are various other fermentation processes that form hydrogen gas, as a result. The step of glycolysis in respiration is a process of fermentation, where pyruvate and ATP are produced from glucose. Lactic acid fermentation takes place when oxygen is absent or not supplied aptly in a muscle, which causes cramps. Therefore, it is interesting to notice that fermentation occurs in both aerobic and anaerobic pathways.
Respiration is important to gain energy, but not all the places in the world have oxygen, and that demands the organisms to adapt with different techniques in order to live in such environments. Anaerobic respiration is one such methods of extracting energy from organic materials using other chemicals viz. sulphate or nitrate compounds as the final electron acceptor in the process. Additionally, these terminal electron acceptors are less efficient in their reduction potentials and could only produce a couple of ATP molecules per glucose molecule. Usually, the waste products are sulphides, nitrites, or methane and those are unpleasant smells for humans and most other animals. Lactic acid is another waste generated through the anaerobic respiration. It is interesting to know that anaerobic respiration could take place in human bodies as well, especially when there is a high demand of oxygen to operate rapid muscle movements. In such cases, lactic acid is produced, and that causes muscle cramps.
What is the difference between Fermentation and Anaerobic Respiration?
• Fermentation is a process where energy is produced from organic compounds using endogenous electron acceptors, and there are many types of electron acceptors. However, anaerobic respiration uses either endogenous or exogenous non-oxygen compounds as terminal electron acceptors in the process.
• Fermentation is present in both aerobic and anaerobic respiration, but not anaerobic respiration.
• Fermentation is used as a commercialized process but not the anaerobic respiration.
• Alcohol and lactic acid are main waste products of fermentation but not always in anaerobic respiration.