Results with Klebsiella sp. corroborates the multifacial roles of many bacteria


by Elias Hakalehto
Our standard, or logical, way to investigate biological entities is a mechanistic approach to sciences, healthcare or biochemical engineering. This somewhat artificial conceptual framework can sometimes restrict the development of ideas or natural research in general. What may apply to chemical reactions may need more sophistication to understand the microbial contributions.
In the process industries, in its bioprocess side, we have attempted to focus simultaneously on the multitudes of overlapping, cross-linked, or each other attenuating reactions or series of responses. The industrial outcome of biotechnical processes, such as methane production, is a sum effect of all these variable functions. The more open our investigation is, the more suitable this “out of the box” approach to recognizing the fast or subtle influences on the process.
This same type of consideration stems from biological indications, such as the pathogenesis of a specific strain. It always depends on numerous factors, only some of which are characterizable or measurable. Yet, the result depends on them and their sum effects on the study object, whether a human body system, environmental net contribution, or the more confined biotechnical process. An excellent example is the pathogenesis of a well-known infective or sometimes a potential pandemic agent, Vibrio cholerae, whose global incidences until some 60 years ago were caused by strains using the so-called mixed acid fermentation (Hakalehto 2015). However, in a short time, the picture changed into another type of strain, namely the 2,3-butanediol-producing ones, to become solely responsible as the causative agents of the corresponding cholera disease.
In some ways, this example of the pathogenesis of a well-known disease corresponds to another more common intestinal phenomenon that is still much less known to science or the general public but needs to be elaborated. Its potential in medical treatments is also mostly unknown, although this microbiological interaction is present in all of us. More than fifteen years ago, we discovered this universal dualistic pattern of coliform strains in the small intestines. It has been referred to as BIB (Bacteriological Intestinal Balance) since it forms the baseline for the microbiological balance in the entire intestinal area (Hakalehto 2011). We investigated the bacterial isolates, cultures and communities using the PMEU device (Portable Microbe Enrichment Unit). The root finding was the oscillating balance between the types mentioned above of enterobacterial metabolism, namely the mixed-acid and 2,3-butanediol (2,3-butylene glycol) pathways (Hakalehto et al. 2008). This interaction was evidenced in the entire intestinal tract, starting from the duodenum (Hakalehto et al. 2010). The balance of the whole digestive tract is then a product of this balanced community that regulates the pH of its surroundings. It could also be a foundation for a healthy gut microbiome, nutrition and total health (Hakalehto et al. 2012, Hakalehto 2020). It has also been proven that microbes influence each other through gaseous metabolites, and they can participate not only in carbon dioxide emissions but also in their assimilation (Hakalehto and Hänninen 2012).
Astonishingly enough, when studying the mixed microbial communities of natural origin, one often observes them pursuing certain determinism. This unavoidably leads to the conclusion, or assumption, that the “common good” of the ecosystems may correspondingly exist. – If any group of organisms would overpower the others, the versatility gets hampered or threatened in the long run. Interestingly, mixed cultures have far higher productivities of specific biochemicals than aseptic pure cultures (Hakalehto et al., 2022). There are ecological niches where the microbiological mix of strains is more or less predetermined. In these milieus, those “orchestras of microbial strains” also produce the typical mixtures of biochemicals, which, of course, is dependent on the physicochemical conditions, too. Soil is a typical example of such a milieu. In the human body system, such a location is the duodenum, which could be considered the “core of the digestive tract”. There, the papilla vateri duct leads the bile acids and the various pancreatic enzymes into the chime (Hakalehto et al. 2010).
This concept of seeing microbial strains as members of versatile communities could be used in the 
1. industrial biotechnology, food production and ecosystem engineering (Hakalehto et al. 2022)
2. air hygiene monitoring (Humppi et al. 2016)
3. hygiene control of water departments (Hakalehto et al. 2011)
4. screening of natural waters (Hakalehto et al. 2018)
5. investigation on public health and nutrition (Hakalehto 2020)
6. researching the intestinal microflora (Hakalehto 2012)
7. organic waste recycling (Hakalehto and Jääskeläinen 2017)
7. studies on soil microbiome (Hakalehto 2018, 2020)
8. ecological city planning (Hakalehto et al. 2022, Hakalehto and Humppi 2023)
What brought us to this point of consideration on the role of microbes was the intriguing role of Klebsiella sp. bacteria in health and disease, as well as their many functions in the environment and industrial processes. This multifaced outlook of one bacterial genus and its many strains illustrates the many dimensions of microbial contributions in the ecosystems and to our lives. Quotations of Hakalehto (2013): “Bacteria belonging to the genus Klebsiella have a dual role in human pathophysiology. Some of the strains are potent opportunistic pathogens capable of causing severe illnesses, whereas a majority of the klebsiellas belong to our normal flora, particularly in our alimentary tract… Interactions of the klebsiellas with the intestinal normal flora could partially determine the role of various strains in a pathological situation.” – This could be the case in bacterial ecosystems in soil or water, on plant surfaces, and in the industrial process broth.  


Hakalehto, E. (2011). Simulation of enhanced growth and metabolism of intestinal Escherichia coli in the Portable Microbe Enrichment Unit (PMEU). In: Rogers MC, Peterson ND (eds.) E. coli infections: causes, treatment and prevention. Nova Science Publishers, Inc. New York, USA. pp.159-175.

Hakalehto, E. (2013). Interactions of Klebsiella sp. with other intestinal flora. In: Pereira, L.A. & Santos, A. (Eds.) Klebsiella Infections: Epidemiology, Pathogenesis and Clinical Outcomes. Nova Science Publishers, Inc. New York, USA. pp. 1-33.

Hakalehto, E. (2015). Bacteriological indications of human activities in the ecosystems. In: Armon, R. and Hänninen, O. (Eds.) Environmental indicators. Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands. pp. 579-611.

Hakalehto, E. (2016). The many microbiomes. In: Hakalehto, E. (Ed.) Microbiological Industrial HygieneNova Science Publishers, Inc. New York, USA. pp. 361-385

Hakalehto, E. (2020). Current megatrends in food production related to microbes. Journal of Food Chemistry and Nanotechnology 6 (1): 78-87.

Hakalehto, E., Humppi, T., & Paakkanen, H. (2008). Dualistic acidic and neutral glucose fermentation balance in the small intestine: Simulation in vitroPathophysiology, 15: 211-220.

Hakalehto, E., Hell, M., Bernhofer, C., Heitto, A., Pesola, J., Humppi, T., & Paakkanen, H. (2010). Growth and gaseous emissions of pure and mixed small intestinal bacterial cultures: Effects of bile and vancomycin. Pathophysiology, 17: 45-53.

Hakalehto, E., Heitto, A., Heitto, L., Humppi, T., Rissanen, K., Jääskeläinen, A., Hänninen, O. (2011). Fast monitoring of water distribution system with portable enrichment unit –Measurement of volatile compounds of coliforms and Salmonella sp. in tap water. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences, 3: 223-233.

Hakalehto, E. and Hänninen, O. (2012). Gaseous CO2 signal initiate growth of butyric acid producing Clostridium butyricum both in pure culture and in mixed cultures with Lactobacillus brevisCan J Microbiol, 58: 928-931.

Hakalehto, E., Hell, M., Hänninen, O. (2012). What should a future probiotic be like? In: Hakalehto, E. (Ed.). Alimentary Microbiome – a PMEU ApproachNova Science Publishers, Inc. New York, USA. pp. 93-101.

Hakalehto, E., Heitto, A., Heitto, L., Rissanen, K., Pesola, I. & Pesola, J. (2014). Enhanced recovery, enrichment and detection of Mycobacterium marinum with the Portable Microbe Enrichment Unit (PMEU). Pathophysiology, 21: 231-235.

Humppi, T., Mustalahti, S., Lehto, T., Hakalehto, E. (2016). In situ decontamination of airborne Bacillus atrophaeus spores by vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP). In: Hakalehto, E. (Ed.) Microbiological Industrial HygieneNova Science Publishers, Inc. New York, USA. pp. 93-101.

Hakalehto, E., Jääskeläinen, A. (2017). Reuse and circulation of organic resources and mixed residues. In: Dahlquist. E. and Hellstrand, S. Springer. Cham, Switzerland. pp. 207-244.

Hakalehto, E., Heitto, A. and Heitto, L. (2018). Hygienic indicators in the waterways. In: Hakalehto, E. (Ed.) Microbiological Environmental HygieneNova Science Publishers, Inc. New York, USA. pp. 265-275.

Hakalehto, E., Adusei-Mensah, F., Heitto, A., Jääskeläinen, A., Kivelä, J., Den Boer, J., Den Boer, E. (2022). Fermented foods and novel or upgraded raw materials for food commodities by microbial communities. In: Hakalehto, E. (Ed.) Microbiology of Food Quality – Challenges in Food Production and Distribution During and After the Pandemics. Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin and Boston. pp. 47-97.

Hakalehto, E., Humppi, T. (2023). What biocatalysis has to offer for green industries and city planning? Maintworld 4/2023. pp. 34-37.


by E. Elias Hakalehto, PhD, Adj. Prof. (Universities of Helsinki and Eastern Finland)
Microbiologist, Biotechnologist
CEO, Finnoflag Oy
Vice President (Europe and Africa), International Society of Environmental Indicators

Copyright Elias Hakalehto and Finnoflag Oy

Published on 08th of April, 2024
Edited by Dr. Vladimir Jakovljevic (Microbiome Power)