What is Microbiology? Importance, Types, and History

What is Microbiology? Importance, Types, and History

What is Microbiology?

Microbiology is one of the branches that make up biology and focuses on the study of microorganisms. It is dedicated to its classification, description, distribution, and analysis of its ways of life and functioning. In the case of pathogenic microorganisms, microbiology also studies their form of infection and the mechanisms for their elimination.

The object of study of microbiology are those organisms that are not perceptible to the human eye, so an instrument of this branch of biology is the microscope, invented in the seventeenth century.

Among the organisms studied by microbiology are eukaryotic and prokaryotic cell aggregates, cells, fungi, viruses and bacteria, and all those microscopic elements.

When addressing the microbial agents that generate infectious pathologies, four branches are identified within microbiology:

  • Parasitology. It focuses on the study of parasitism and includes eukaryotic parasites such as helminths, protozoa, and arthropods. This branch also addresses diseases or parasites that affect plants, humans, and animals.
  • Bacteriology. He is dedicated to studying bacteria and the diseases they generate.
  • Mycology. It is devoted to the study of fungi.
  • Virology. It studies viruses, classifies them, and analyzes their evolution, structure, ways of infecting and harboring themselves in host cells and their interaction with them. On the other hand, address the diseases caused by viruses and the development of techniques for their cultivation, isolation, and use.
What is Microbiology? Importance, Types, and  History
What is Microbiology? Importance, Types, and History

Importance of microbiology

In the field of health and medicine, microbiology is of great importance since it is responsible for studying pathogenic microorganisms such as fungi, viruses, parasites, and bacteria that can cause disease in humans.

From microbiology, infectious diseases suffered by any patient are studied and thanks to it it is possible to determine which is the most appropriate treatment for each disease and patient.

Also, the knowledge developed in microbiology is applied in industries of all kinds, for example, in energy, where this knowledge is applied to convert waste into energy sources.

Types of microbiology

Within microbiology, different sub-disciplines are identified according to their object of study. Some of them are the following:

  • Sanitary microbiology. It is dedicated to the study of those organisms that contaminate food and put the health of those who consume it at risk.
  • Veterinary microbiology. It is dedicated to addressing microorganisms that affect the health of animals.
  • Phytopathology. It addresses the diseases that some protists, bacteria, viruses, or fungi can generate in plantations.
  • Medical microbiology. It studies those microorganisms that cause diseases and takes into account their treatment and transmission.
  • Agricultural microbiology. It addresses the bacteria and fungi that settle on crops and studies how the interaction between them can be beneficial.
  • Microbial Genetics. Analyze the regulation and organization of microbial genes.
  • Microbial ecology. Addresses the behavior of populations of microbes and interaction with their habitat.
  • Microbial physiology. Study the functioning of microbial cells.
  • Evolutionary microbiology. It is devoted to the study of the evolution of microbes.

History of microbiology

Microbiology as a science was not developed until the nineteenth century but its origins can be found throughout history, so it speaks of four periods:

  • First period. It ranges from ancient times to the first microscopists (it does not have specific dates).
  • Second period. It has its beginnings around 1675 (when Leeuwenhoek discovered microorganisms) and goes until the mid-1800s.
  • Third period. It begins with the development of microorganism cultures and ends in the mid-1800s, when Koch and Pasteur, with their advances, turned microbiology into an established science.
  • Fourth period. It has its beginnings in the early 1900s when specialists approach microorganisms from various angles such as genetics, ecology, biochemistry, and physiology.

Within microbiology, different sub-disciplines are identified according to their object of study. Some of them are the following:

  • Sanitary microbiology. It is dedicated to the study of those organisms that contaminate food and put the health of those who consume it at risk.
  • Veterinary microbiology. It is dedicated to addressing microorganisms that affect the health of animals.
  • Phytopathology. It addresses the diseases that some protists, bacteria, viruses, or fungi can generate in plantations.
  • Medical microbiology. It studies those microorganisms that cause diseases and takes into account their treatment and transmission.
  • Agricultural microbiology. It addresses the bacteria and fungi that settle on crops and studies how the interaction between them can be beneficial.
  • Microbial Genetics. Analyze the regulation and organization of microbial genes.
  • Microbial ecology. Addresses the behavior of populations of microbes and interaction with their habitat.
  • Microbial physiology. Study the functioning of microbial cells.
  • Evolutionary microbiology. It is devoted to the study of the evolution of microbes.

Microbiology career

Many universities have career Microbiology designed to train specialists in this field, engaged in the research and development of policies related to microorganisms and infectious diseases.

Graduates in Microbiology are trained to work in fields related to illness and disease and to manipulate microorganisms to develop solutions in the most diverse areas.

Furthermore, microbiologists can control the quality of products food, pharmaceutical, agricultural and environmental.

Viruses in microbiology

In microbiology, the virus is defined as a genetic agent that has a central region made up of RNA, DNA, or nucleic acid. Also, this nucleus is covered by proteins or capsid and, in some cases, by lipoprotein.

Each virus has enough information to specify its reproductive cycle, and it differs from others due to its chemical composition, shape, and size.

Viruses began to be isolated only a few decades ago and therefore there is no certainty about their origins: only the qualities of today’s viruses can be analyzed in depth.

What is Microbiology? Importance, Types, and History

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