Microbiology is the study of microorganisms (microbes), including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and algae. Departments of microbiology including the traditional divisions of anatomy, physiology, genetics, taxonomy, and ecology, together with various branches of medicine, veterinary medicine, and plant pathology, since many microorganisms are pathogenic (disease-causing) by nature.


Development of microbiology

Microbiology began in the 17th century with the discovery by the Dutch microscopist Anton van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723) of a wide variety of organisms too small to be seen by the unaided eye. However, relatively little progress was made until the noneteenth century when, largely due to the pioneering work of scientists such as Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch, it was recognized that microorganisms cause many infectious diseases and are also responsible for processes such as fermentation and decay.


Microbiology continued to progress with the discovery of viruses, the development of vaccines, and antibiotic drug, against many diseases, and studies of the chemical processes that are fundamental to all living cells. Recently, microbiologists have played an important role in the study of genetics by pioneering techniques of genetic engineering. In hospitals, microbiologists help identify the infectious organisms responsible for a patient's illness, and also give advice on the sensitivity of these organisms to different drugs. Microbiologists also play an important role in the food industry, particularly in baking and brewing. In the pharmaceutical industry, they supervise the production of antibiotics.