Microbiology – A brief Introduction

The study of the microbes is termed as Microbiology.  Our eyes cannot visualize objects less than 1 mm in diameter. But microorganisms are too small to be visible by naked eyes. Microorganisms require a microscope to be visible. Unaided eyes cannot see them. The microscopic organisms are called microorganisms. The term “microorganism” was first used by Sedillot in the year 1878. Microbes are basically living organisms, except the virus. Besides virus, bacteria, protozoa, fungi, algae are collectively regarded as Microorganisms.

Branches of Microbiology –
The various other subordinate branches of Microbiology includes –

  • Bacteriology – this branch of science deals with the stud of the bacteria.
  • Mycology – the study of fungi is termed as Mycology.
  • Protozoology – various protozoans are studied and are placed under the science of protozoology.
  • Virology – the study of virus.
  • Parasitology – the study of eukaryotic parasites.
  • Phycology – the science dealing with algae is termed as Phycology or Algology.
  • Microbial Physiology – the study of microbial metabolism at their cellular and molecular levels.
  • Microbial Morphology – the study of the detailed structure of the microbes.
  • Microbial Taxonomy – the branch of science that deals with classification, nomenclature (naming) and identification of microorganisms.
  • Microbial Genetics – the function of the genetic materials and biochemical reactions involved in the metabolism and growth of the microbial cell(s) is collectively studied under this branch.
  • Microbial Ecology – the study of the interrelationships between the microbes and the environment.

Scope of Microbiology –
Microbiology is a vast discipline of science. The scientist focusing on –

  • viruses is called Virologist
  • bacteria is called Bacteriologist
  • algae is called Phycologist
  • fungi is called Mycologist
  • protozoa is called Protozoologist

Microbiology is applied in various fields like – medicines, health, food and diary and many more.

History of Microbiology –
Most microorganisms fall within the range of a few micrometers to millimeters. Exceptions include the viruses which are a few nanometers and worms that are a few centimeters in length. Microbiology has been in use over 300 years. A few of the significant discoveries in microbiological sciences are mentioned below –

  • 1546Girolamo Fracastoro, an Italian Physician, claimed that diseases are caused by some invisible organisms.
  • 1660Robert Hooke, an Englishman, explored living and non—living matters using the microscope for the first time.
  • 1676 Antony Van Leewenhoek, a Dutch linen merchant, discovered bacteria and protozoa using his own simple microscope.
  • 1796Edward Jenner, an English surgeon, introduced the smallpox vaccine.
  • 1857 Louis Pasteur, a French bacteriologist, established the concepts of fermentation and pasteurization.
  • 1876-1877 Robert Koch, a German bacteriologist, demonstrated that anthrax is caused by Bacillus anthracis.
  • 1882 – the causative organism of tuberculosis is identified by Robert Koch.
  • 1884Louis Pasteur developed vaccine for rabies.
  • 1905 Fritz Schauddin and E. Hoffman, German bacteriologists, discovered that Treponema pallidum is the causative organism of Syphilis.
  • 1929Alexander Fleming, a Scottish bacteriologist, discovered Penicillin, the first antibiotic.
  • 1953 – the first phase-contrast microscope was discovered.
  • 1953 Jonas Salk developed the first polio vaccine.

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