Current Status of EM (Effective Microorganisms) Utilization

유용미생물 (EM, Effective Microorganisms)의 활용 현황

  • Received : 2011.05.10
  • Accepted : 2011.08.23
  • Published : 2011.10.31


Effective Microorganisms (EM), a fermented medium developed by Professor Higa at the University of the Ryukyus, is a mixed culture containing dozens of microorganisms which are beneficial to nature including people, animals, plants and many microbial species in environment. EM is known to contain more than 80 kinds of anaerobic or aerobic microbes including photosynthetic bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, yeast, actinomycetes, fungi and so on, with yeast, lactic acid bacteria and photosynthetic bacteria as the main species of EM. Antioxidant effect generated by the concert of complex coexistence and coprosperity among these microbes is considered to be the main source of EM benefits. Currently, EM is earning an increasing attention with applications in agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, fisheries, environment and medicine among others. At the same time, however, a quantitative interpretation of EM system based on a mixed culture model needs efforts from biochemical engineers for efficient production and further promotion of EM. In this paper, we describe the functions of major microbes in EM and current researches and applications of EM in agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, fisheries, environment and medicine.


effective microorganisms;antioxidant;yeast;lactic acid bacteria;photosynthetic bacteria


  1. Higa, T. (1991) Effective microorganisms: a biotechnology for mankind. First International Conference on Kyusei Nature Farming. pp. 8-14. Washington, DC, USA,
  2. Shuler, M. L. and F. Kargi (1992) Bioprocess engineering- Basic concepts. 2nc ed., pp. 397-427. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
  3. Herias, M.V., C. Hessle, E. Telemo, T. Midtvedt, L. Å. Hanson, and A. E. Wold (1999) Immunomodulatory effects of Lactobacillus plantarum colonizing the intestine of gnotobiotic rats. Clin. Exp. Immunol. 116: 283-290.
  4. Higa, T. (1993) An Earth Saving Revolution: A Means to Resolve Our World's Problems Through Effective Microorganisms (EM), pp. 335. Sunmark Publishing Inc., Tokyo, Japan.
  5. Higa, T. (2001) Effective Microorganisms in the context of Kyusei Nature Farming: a technology for the future. In: Senanayake, Y.D.A., Sangakkara, U.R. (Eds.), Sixth International Conference on Kyusei Nature Farming. pp. 40-43. Pretoria, South Africa,
  6. Xu, H. (2000) Effects of a microbial inoculant and organic fertilizers on the growth, photosynthesis and yield of sweet corn. J. Crop Prod. 3: 183-214.
  7. Condor_Golec, A. F., P. Gonzales Perez, and Ch. Lokare (2007) Effective Microorganisms: Myth or reality?, Rev. Peru. Biol. 14: 315-319.
  8. EMRO (1995) EM Application Manual for APNAN Countries, 1stEd, pp. 1-7.
  9. Kinjo, S. (1990) Studies on effective utilization of organic matter by lactic acid fermentation. M. S. Thesis, Department of Agriculture, University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa, Japan.
  10. Ruinen, J. (1970) The phyllosphere. V. The grass sheet, a habitat for nitrogen fixing microorganisms. Plant and Soil. 33: 661-671.
  11. Pati, B. R. (1981) Effective of spraying nitrogen fixing phyllospheric bacterial isolates on wheat plants. Plant and Soil. 61: 419-427.
  12. Sen Gupta, B., A. S. Nandi, and P. Sen (1982) Utility of phyllosphere nitrogen fixing microorganisms in the improvement of crop growth I. Plant and Soil. 68: 55-57.
  13. Sen Gupta, B., A. S. Nandi, and P. Sen (1982) Utility of phyllosphere nitrogen fixing microorganisms in the improvement of crop growth II. Wheat. Plant and Soil 68: 69-74.
  14. Iwaishi, S. (2000) Effect of organic fertilizer and effective microorganisms on growth, yield and quality of paddy-rice varieties. J. Crop Prod. 3: 269-273.
  15. Bajwa, R. (2005) Effects of arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) and effective microorganisms (EM) on various plants under allelopathic stress. Allelopathy J. 16: 261-271.
  16. Priyadi, K., H. Abdul, T. H. Siagian, C. Nisa, A. Azizah, N. Raihani, and K. Inubushi (2005) Effect of soil type, applications of chicken manure and effective microorganisms on corn yield and microbial properties of acidic wetland soils in Indonesia. Soil Sci. Plant Nutr. 51: 689-691.
  17. Javaid, A. (2006) Foliar application of effective microorganisms on pea as an alternative fertilizer. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 26: 257-262.
  18. Khaliq, A., M. K. Abbasi, and T. Hussain (2006) Effects of integrated use of organic and inorganic nutrient sources with effective microorganisms (EM) on seed cotton yield in Pakistan. Bioresour. Technol. 97: 967-972.
  19. van Vliet, P. C. J., J. Bloem, and R. G. M. de Goede (2006) Microbial diversity, nitrogen loss and grass production after addition of effective microorganisms (R) (EM) to slurry manure. Appl. Soil Ecol. 32: 188-198.
  20. Okorski, A., J. Olszewski, A. Pszczokowska, and T. Kulik (2008) Effect of fungal infection and the application of the biological agent EM 1 on the rate of photosynthesis and transpiration in pea (Pisum sativum L.) leaves. Pol. J. Nat. Sci. 23: 35-47.
  21. Lee, B. N. (1999) Economic Analysis of Effective Microorganism (EM) on Nature Farming. Kor. J. Intl, Agri. 11: 383-390.
  22. Doosan EcoBizNet. AquaBacta (acuaculture) Technical Report.
  23. Doosan EcoBizNet. EcoBacta Technical Report. http://ecobiznet.
  24. Weijiong, L. and N. Yongzhen (1995) Effects of effective microorganisms (EM) on reduction of odour from animal and poultry dung. Proceedings of Fourth Conference on Effective Microorganisms. 104-108.
  25. Kang, K. H., S. K. Kam, C. G. Hu, and M. G. Lee (2006) Comparison of Reduction Effect of Contaminants and Odor According to DO Change and EM Addition in Maturation Process of Piggery Slurry. J. Environ. Sci. 15: 563-569.
  26. EM center. Activities.
  27. Evermiracle. Applications.
  28. Rashid, M. T. and J. West (2007) Dairy wastewater treatment with effective microorganisms and duckweed for pollutants and pathogen control. Wastewater Reuse-Risk Assessment, Decision-Making and Environmental Security 93-102.
  29. Szymanski, N. and R. A. Patterson (2003) Effective microorganisms (EM) and wastewater systems. Future Directions for On-site System: Best Management Practice Proceedings of On-site '03 Conference. 348-355.
  30. Okuda, A. and T. Higa (1999) Purification of wastewater with effective microorganisms and its utilization in agriculture. Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Kyusei Nature Farming 246-253. APNAN, Thailand.
  31. Zakaria, Z., S. Gairola, and N. M. Shariff (2010) Effective microorganisms (EM) technology for water quality restoration and potential for sustainable water resources and management. International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software Modelling for Environment's Sake, Fifth Biennial Meeting. Ottawa, Canada.
  32. Higa, T. and N. Chinen (1998) EM treatments of odor, waste water, and environment problems.
  33. Lee, E. J., S. M. Lee, G. T. Lee, I. S. Kim, and Y.-H. Kim (2008) Application of effective microorganisms for bioremediation of crude oil spill in Taean, Korea. J. Environ. Sci. 17: 83-87.
  34. Nakasaki, K., M. Sasaki, M. Shoda, and H. Kubota (1985) Effect of seeding during thermophilic composting of sewage sludge. Applied and environmental Microbiology, Mar. 724-726
  35. Nakasaki, K., M. Shoda, and H. Kubota (1985) Effect of temperature on composting of sewage sludge. Applied and environmental Microbiology Dec. 1526-1530.
  36. David, G. F. and M. Hans (2000) The use of effective microorganisms (EM) in organic waste management.
  37. Chung, J. O. (1995) EM Composting of Food Waste in Korea Journal of KOWREC. 3: 97-105.
  38. Kim, S. R., Y. K. Kim, J. K. Lee, and I. O. Hwang (2006) Manufacturing and adhesion of ceramic carrier for EM fixation. Chosun univ Institute of production tech. 28: 51-61.
  39. Sato N. and T. Higa (2001) Research on the antioxidant components of EM-X and the mechanisms of action. Clinical and Basic Medical Research on EMX vol. 1, EMRO, Okinawa, Japan.
  40. Sato, N., Y. Hoshimura and T. Higa (1997) A study of active antibacterial substances in extracts through fermentation with effective microorganisms. Biosci. Control 37: 38-45.
  41. Higa, T, and B. Ke (2001) Clinical and Basic Medical Research on EM-X-a Collection of Research Papers 1. EMRO, Okinawa, Japan.
  42. Chui, C. H., G. Y. M. Cheng, B. Ke, F. Y. Lau, R. S. M. Wong, S. H. L. Kok, S. Fatima, F. Cheung, C. H. Cheng, A. S. C. Chan, and J. C. O. Tang (2004) Growth inhibitory potential of effective microorganism fermentation extract (EM-X) on cancer cells. Int. J. Mol. Med. 14: 925-929.
  43. Chui, C. H., D. K. P. Hau, F. Y. Lau, G. Y. M. Cheng, R. S. M. Wong, R. Gambari, S. H. L. Kok, K. B. Lai, I. T. N. Teo, T. W. T. Leung, T. Higa, B. Ke, J. C. O. Tang, D. W. F. Fong, and A. S. C. Chan (2006) Apoptotic potential of the concentrated effective microorganism fermentation extract on human cancer cells. Int. J. Mol. Med. 17: 279-284.
  44. Ke, B., T. Higa, Z.-X. Zhong, and Y.-F. Liang (2001) Antiaging activities of effective microorganisms extracts (EM-X) on the fruit fly and the mouse. J. Snake 13: 1-8.
  45. Aruoma, O. I., J. A. Moncaster, D. T. Walsh, S. M. Gentleman, B. Ke, Y.-F. Liang, T. Higa, and L.-S. Jen (2003) The antioxidant cocktail, effective microorganisms (EM-X) protects retinal neurons in rats against N-methyl-D-aspartate excitotoxicity in vivo. Free Radic. Res. 37: 91-97.
  46. Deiana, M., M. A. Dessi, B. Ke, Y.-F. Liang, T. Higa, P. S. Gilmour, L.-S. Jen, I. Rahman, and O. I. Aruoma (2002) The antioxidant cocktail effective microorganism X (EM-X) inhibits oxidant-induced interleukin-8 release and the peroxidation of phospholipids in vitro. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 296: 1148-1151.
  47. Aruoma, O. I., M. Deiana, A. Rosa, V. Casu, R. Piga, S. Peccagnini, M. A. Dessi, B. Ke, Y.-F. Liang, and T. Higa (2002) Assessment of the ability of the antioxidant cocktail-derived from fermentation of plants with effective microorganisms (EM-X) to modulate oxidative damage in the kidney and liver of rats in vivo: studies upon the profile of poly- and monounsaturated fatty acids. Toxico. Lett. 135: 209-217.
  48. Ke, B., Y.-F. Liang, Z.-X. Zhong, T. Higa, and O. I. Aruoma (2005) Evaluation of the toxicity and safety of the antioxidant beverage effective microorganisms-X (EM-X) in animal model. Environ. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 20: 313-320.
  49. Ke, B., Z. Xu, Y. Ling, W. Qiu, Y. Xu, T. Higa, and O. I. Aruoma (2009) Modulation of experimental osteoporosis in rats by the antioxidant beverage effective microorganism-X (EM-X). Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy 63: 114-119.
  50. Ahn, S. W. and K. H. Lee (2005) EM and ore treatment effect of shallot growth and producing antioxidants. Proceedings of the Korean Environmental Sciences Society Conference. Nov 18-19. 14: 119-123.
  51. Han S. K. (2005) Quality Improvement of Effective Microorganisms (EM) Pork Produced by Using EM, J. Korea. Soc. Food. Sci. Nutr. 34: 734-737.
  52. Kim Y. J. (2008) Assessment of river odor reduction using effective microorganisms (EM).
  53. Yoon, K. S., S. Y. Moon, S. W. Hur, Y. J. Kim, and Y. M. Koo (2008) Deodorization of Autolysed Cell Concentrate by using Effective Microorganisms. KSBB Fall Meeting & International Synposium. Oct.
  54. Lee, J. H., J. O. Joeng, and S. H. Park (2000) A Study on the Composting Process of Food Waste by Seeding the Isolated Effective Microorganism. J. Env. Hith. Soc. 26: 1-10.
  55. Ahn S. W. (2005) The Study of Effects of the EM (Effective Microorganisms) on Organic Agriculture of Lactuca sativa L. (Leaf Type). Journal of the Korea greenery environment 1: 38-45.
  56. Kang, B. K. and C. K. Song (2003) Effect of Application of Microbial Liquid Manure on Growth and Yield of Altari Radish (Raphanus sativus L.) in Volcanic Ash. Korean Journal of Organic Agriculture 11: 65-73.
  57. Seok, W. Y., J. S. Oh, D. H. Kim, W. B. Chung, and S. J. Jeong (2004) Effect of Microbial Product on Microorganisms in Soil and the Growth of Leaf Lettuce. Korean Journal of Organic Agriculture 12: 427-436.
  58. Jeong, S. J., J. S. Oh, W. Y. Seok, J. H. Kim, D. H. Kim, and W. B. Chung (2006) Effect of Chitosan, Wood Vinegar and EM on Microorganisms in Soil and Early Growth of Tomato. Korean Journal of Organic Agriculture 14: 433-443.
  59. Yoon, S. T., S. H. Park, and Y. W. Kim (2007) Study on Environment-friendly rice Production System by Use of Effective Microorganism. Korean Journal of Organic Agriculture 15: 207-218.
  60. Kim, Y. K., S. K. Han, and Y. J. Baek (2004) The Study for the Relationship between EM Fermentation and Salinity Behavior. Journal of the Korean Society of Environmental Engineers. 1375-1376.
  61. Moon, S. O., O. S. Na, B. J. Kang, and Y. D. Lee (2000) Growth effect of Flatfish, Paralichthys olivaceus by EM added feed. The Korean Society of Fisheries and Aquatic Science spring joint conference 294-295.
  62. Ko, S. C., Y. C. Song, and I. S. Kim (1997) Efficient Treatment of Food Wastes by EM (Effective Microorganisms) and Their Recycling. Journal of the Korea Solid Wastes Eng. Society 14: 729-740.
  63. Ko, S. C. and H. N. Hyun (1998) The effect of EM (Effective Microorganisms) treated Food Waste on soil. Proceedings of the Korea Organic Resource Recycling Association Conference April. 57-65.
  64. Roh, S. H. and S. I. Kim (2006) The Effect of Effective Microorganisms on Biological Nutrient Removal in SBR Process. J. Korean Ind. Eng. Chem. 10: 369-372.
  65. Ko, S. C. and H. N. Hyun (1998) The effect of EM (Effective Microorganisms) treated Food Waste on soil. Proceedings of the Korea Organic Resource Recycling Association Conference April. 57-65.
  66. Lee, E. Y. (2009) Effect on the Concentration of Glucose and Sucrose on the Hydrogen Production using by the Facultative Anaerobic Hydrogen Producing Bacterium Rhodopseudomonas sp. MeL 6-2. Kor. J. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 37: 176-182.
  67. Han, S. K. (2004) Antioxidant effect and cholesterol content change of EM pork. Proceedings of the Korean Society for Food Science of Animal Resources Conference. Oct. 150-153.
  68. Han, S. K. (2004) Antioxidant effect of fermented Salicornia herbacea L. liquid with EM (Effective Microorganism) on Pork. Korean J. Food Sci. Ani. Resour. 24: 298-302.
  69. Han, S. K. (2004). Antioxidant effect of fermented meet added EM (Effective Microorganisms) related Lactic acid bacteria. Proceedings of the Korean Society for Food Science of Animal Resources Conference. May, 135-137.
  70. Do, J. S., Y. H. Choi, H. J. Seo, J. H. Ryoo, and S. Y. Nam (2006) Effective microorganism (EM) fermentation extract attenuates airway hyperreactivity and lung inflammation in a mouse model of asthma. Journal of Bacteriology and Virology 36: 1-10.
  71. Yoon S. H. (2005) The improvement of aquaculture water by using effective microorganism. M.S. Thesis. Mokpo national University. Korea.

Cited by

  1. Characterization of Water Quality and the Aerobic Bacterial Population in Leachate Derived from Animal Carcass Disposal vol.23, pp.1, 2013,