What is Microbiology?

Microbiology is the science of microscopic organisms. It is the study of microorganisms which are too tiny to be visible through naked eyes. Throughout the history, people were ignorant of the existence of the minute organisms that present everywhere, and the implications of this ignorance were huge. By far, microorganisms make up the largest group of living things existing on Earth. If microbes were to become extinct, disaster would become inevitable and life on Earth would be beyond imagination.  Despite the fact that over three hundred years have passed since the discovery of microbes, the field of microbiology can be said to be in its infancy relative to older biological disciplines such as zoology and botany as only one percent of all micro species that inhabit Earth has been studied by humans.

Importance of Microbiology in Our Lives

The work of microbiologists is cutting-edge and very important. Microbiologists are making a difference to our lives. Gene therapy techniques, for instance, are developed by microbiologists in search for solutions for genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis and inherited cancers. The indisputable significance of microbiology to mankind has enlarged manifold. Modern infectious disease medicine is built upon a solid understanding of microbiology.

Microorganisms are indispensible components of our ecosystems as they have always impacted our health, food and environment and they will continue to play a pivotal role in the big issues that face us in the future: climate change, renewable energy resources; healthier lifestyles and controlling diseases. Microorganisms play a vital role in nutrient cycles of plants like fixing nitrogen and carbon dioxide at the beginning of food chain to decomposition and recycling of essential nutrients. They make possible the cycles of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur that take place in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. In addition, they are also very necessary for the production of antibiotics and vaccines which contribute to human welfare in aspect of human health and diseases. There are diverse applications of microorganisms in numerous sectors such as agriculture, biotechnology, forestry, food, industry, medicine, waste management and environment. Bacteria, for example, are important in probiotics and they are used in food production such as yoghurt and cheese whereas yeasts and fungi are used to make wine, beer, and bread.  Though microorganisms can be harmful and are associated with many diseases, infections, food poisoning and food spoilage, the majority of microorganisms make significant contributions to the world’s inhabitants. They maintain the balance of chemicals and living organisms in the global environment.

Branches of Microbiology

Microbiology is a broad term and divided into five main branches which includes virology (study of viruses), mycology (study of fungi), protozoology (study of protozoa), bacteriology (study of bacteria), phycology (study of algae). Some other fields of microbiology are microbial genetics, cellular microbiology, medicinal microbiology, food microbiology, aeromicrobiology, pharmaceutical microbiology and nanomicrobiology, and a host of other subdivisions. 

Bachelor Degree in Microbiology

Generally, a microbiology bachelor degree is a curriculum that provides students with the expertise required to study and control microbial activities. Microbiology degree program consists of four years.

Common courses include:

  • General Microbiology
  • Microbial Diversity
  • Microbial Genetics
  • Biology
  • Biostatistics
  • Bioinformatics
  • Chemistry
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Clinical Microbiology
  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Metabolic Regulation
  • Senior Seminar in Microbiology
  • Food Microbiology
  • Microbial Biotechnology
  • Introduction to Molecular Virology

The degree in microbiology paves a promising path for graduates who wish to venture into attractive fields like biotechnology, pharmacology, agriculture and the food industry.

Career as a Microbiologiest

Microbiologists look at the smallest of organisms, but they have big and promising career opportunities. With the increase in emerging infectious disease and antibiotic resistance, the threat of bioterrorism, the rapid advances in biotechnology, and numerous environmental problems, microbiologists are in higher demand than ever. Microbiologists work in every sector of the economy: Universities, Colleges, Schools, Hospitals, Government Agencies, Congress, Industry and the Military.

The following is a list of some of the many career options available to microbiologists:

  • Environmental Companies
  • Food Industries
  • Hospitals and other Medical Institutions
  • Pharmaceutical Companies
  • Research Laboratories
  • Veterinary Institutions
  • Water Authorities.
  • Bacteriology / Microbiology
  • Ecology
  • Education
  • Environmental Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Food Technology
  • Genetics
  • Marine Biology
  • Marketing / Technical Sales
  • Medical Technology / Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Mycology
  • Pathology
  • Quality Assurance
  • Virology

Traits and Skills of a Successful Microbiologist

  • Investigative, realistic, expert and proficient in the field, passion for learning, diligent, scientific and analytical bend of mind. Microbiologist nust be able to work independently or as part of a team. The ability to communicate clearly and concisely, observant, physical stamina, patience, self-discipline and dedication are important traits.

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