microbiology is the study of microorganisms, also known as microbes. an array of diverse and generally tiny life forms, which include archaea’s, bacteria algae, fungi protozoa and viruses. The research is concerned with the nature, function and classification of these organisms as well as ways of utilizing and controlling their actions.
The discovery in the 17th century of living creatures that were not visible for the human eye an important event in the history of science. This is because beginning in the 13th century, it was thought the idea that “invisible” entities were responsible for the development of disease and decay. The term microbe was used in the latter period of the nineteenth century to refer to the various organisms which were believed to be closely related. Microbiology evolved into a science that was specialized and was discovered, microbes comprise a huge variety of organisms that are extremely diverse.
Every day life is inextricably interwoven with microorganisms. Alongside residing on the outer and inner surfaces of our bodies microbes thrive within the earth, the seas, as well as within the atmosphere. They are abundant, yet often unnoticed microorganisms offer ample evidence of their existence. Sometimes, they do so unfavorably such as when they trigger decay of materials or transmit diseases, but often in a positive way such as when they convert sugar into wine and beer and cause bread to rise, flavor cheeses, and create valuable items like insulin and antibiotics. Microorganisms add immense significance to the ecology of Earth in removing plant and animal remains and turning them into simple substances that can then be used in the creation of new organisms.
Background information from the past
Microbiology began with the invention of the microscope. While others might have observed microbes before however they were Antoine van Leeuwenhoek Dutch draper with a passion for grinding lenses and creating microscopes that is the one to create an accurate record of his observations. The drawings and descriptions he wrote included protozoans found in the animal’s guts as well as bacteria that were found in tooth scrapings. His documentation was excellent since the magnifying lenses he created were with exceptional quality.
Leeuwenhoek shared his findings in a series notes to members of his fellow members at the British Royal Society during the late 1670s. While his findings sparked a lot of curiosity, nobody attempted in any serious way to duplicate or extend the findings. Leeuwenhoek’s “animalcules,” as he described them, remained just a few oddities in nature to scientists of the time, and interest in studying microbes increased slow.
It was only in the 18th century, when there was a revival of a long-running controversy over the possibility of life developing from nonliving matter and that the importance of microorganisms within the framework of nature as well as in the wellbeing and health of human beings became apparent.
Generation spontaneous versus biological generation of life
In the early Greeks considered that living creatures could arise in nonliving substances (abiogenesis) as well as that goddess Gea could have created life from stone. Aristotle dismissed this belief however, he believed that animals could be born naturally from different organisms or even from soil. The influence of his ideas on the concept of spontaneous creation was evident as late as the 17th century, however towards the close of the century, a sequence of experiments, observations and debates started which eventually disproved the notion. The development in understanding was not easy to fight by a series of events, and forces of personal will and personality frequently obscuring the truth.
While Francesco Reid, an Italian doctor, in 1668, proved that higher forms of life could have originated naturally, the proponents of the theory declared that microbes were unique and could have ascended this manner. Some famous names like John Needham and Lazzaro Spallanzani were adversaries in this argument in the late 1700s. In the beginning of the 1800s Franz Schulze and Theodor Schwann were the most prominent figures in their efforts to debunk the theories of abiogenesis.
Louis Pasteur finally announced the results of his conclusive research in 1864. Through a series brilliant research, Pasteur proved that only existing microbes can give birth to the growth of other organisms (biogenesis). Modern , accurate understanding about the types of bacteria is due to German botanist Ferdinand Cohn, whose chief findings were published in 1853 between 1853 and 1892. Cohn’s classification for bacteria, published in 1872, and expanded in 1875, was the primary research of these organisms for the next few years.
Disease and microbes
Girolamo Fracastoro, an Italian scholar, proposed from the mid-1700s that contagion was an infection that spreads between different things. The precise nature of what happens during transmission was not available for researchers until the end of the 1800s, when the efforts of a variety of researchers, Pasteur foremost among them established the significance of bacteria in the process of fermentation and diseases. Robert Koch, a German doctor, developed the method (Koch’s postulates) to prove that a particular organism is responsible for the specific illness.
The microbiology-based foundation was laid in the time from around 1880 until 1900. Students from Pasteur, Koch, and others discovered quickly an array of bacteria that could cause specific illnesses (pathogens). They also developed an extensive set of tools and laboratory methods to reveal the widespreadness of the microbes, their diversity, and capabilities of microbes.
The 20th century was a time of progress.
All of these developments took place during Europe. Only in the early 1900s did microbiology gain a foothold in America. A lot of microbiologists working in America in the early 1900s were educated with Koch and at Pasteur Institute in Paris. After its establishment in America microbiology thrived, particularly in relation to closely related fields as biochemistry and genetics. In 1923, American microbiologist David Bergey established that science’s principal reference point, with updated versions of which are still employed today.
Since the 1940s, microbiology seen a tremendously productive time where a wide variety of disease-causing microbes have been discovered and strategies to manage them were created. Microorganisms also have been successfully employed in industries Their activities are channeled to the degree that beneficial products are now essential and routine.
Microorganisms have increased our understanding about all living organisms. Microbes are simple to work with and offer a straightforward means of investigating the intricate processes that occur in life. As a result, they are now an effective instrument to study metabolism and genetics in the molecular realm. This intense examination of the roles of microbes has produced numerous, and sometimes unexpected rewards. The understanding of the metabolic and nutritional needs of a pathogen, as an instance, is often ways of preventing the spread of disease or infection.
Different types of microorganisms
The major groups of microorganisms–namely bacteria, archaea, fungi (yeasts and molds), algae, protozoa, and viruses–are summarized below. Links to more in-depth reviews of each of the major groups are included.
Bacteria (eubacteria and archaea)
Microbiology developed primarily through the study of bacteria. The work conducted by Louis Pasteur in France, Robert Koch in Germany, and other researchers in the latter half of 1800s established that microbes are important for humans. According to the Historical background section, the work of these scientists proved that germ theory for illness and theories of origin of fermentation. In their labs that the techniques were developed for microscopic examination of specimens, the cultivation of (growing) bacteria in the laboratory, isolating the pure strains from mixed-culture populations and other lab manipulatives. These techniques, originally used for studying bacteria, have been modified for the study of all microorganisms–hence the transition from bacteriology to microbiology.
The organisms of the microbial community are classified as either eukaryotes, or prokaryotes and all bacteria are prokaryotic. That is, single-celled organisms that do not have an attached nucleus to the membrane. The DNA (the genetic material in the cell) is, rather than being located in the nucleus is a long, unfolded thread that has no place inside the cell.
In the 1970s, it was widely believed that all bacteria are linked in evolution. This notion has been challenged since 1977 Carl R. Woes and co-investigators from the University of Illinois, whose studies on ribosomal DNA from a wide range of living organisms revealed that two bacteria developed in distinct ways from a common ancestral form. This led to the development of a new term to define the most distinct types of microbes, namely the Eubacteria (the conventional as well as “true” bacteria), the archaea (bacteria that differed from other bacteria in the earlier stage of their evolution, and differ from the Eubacteria) as well as the eukaryote (the eukaryotes). These are now referred to as the authentic bacteria (or they are the bacteria) and comprise part of the term domain Bacteria. The relationships that evolved between the members of the three groups are becoming unclear, as examination of the DNA sequences of different microbes have revealed a myriad of strange similarities.
This means that the exact ancestry for today’s microbes is a challenge to establish. Many traits that are thought to be unique to distinct taxonomic classes have been observed in different microbes. For example, an anaerobic ammonia-oxidizer–the “missing link” in the global nitrogen cycle–was isolated for the first time in 1999. The bacteria (an abnormal member of the family Planctomycetes) was discovered to possess internal structures similar to the eukaryotes, a cell’s wall with Archaean traits and a type for reproduction (budding) like the yeast cells.
Bacteria come in a variety of shapes, such as rods, spheres, and spirals. The cells of an individual typically range in size from 0.5 up to five micrometers (mm millionths of one centimeter). While they are unicellular, bacteria typically are found in chains, in pairs or Tetrads (groups consisting of 4) or clusters. Certain species have flagella, which are external whip like structures that move the organism through liquid medium and some also have capsules that is an exterior coating for the cell. Others produce spores, a reproductive body that functions like seeds do in plants. One of the most important characteristic that bacteria possess is the response towards the Gram stain. Based on the chemical and structure in the wall of cells certain bacteria are gram-positive that react to the purple color of the stain while others are non-gram negative.
Under a microscope, the archaea resemble bacteria, however there are significant distinctions with respect to their composition of chemicals, their biochemical processes and their environments. The cells of all bacteria contain the chemical ingredient known as peptidoglycan. However, the cells of archaea lack the chemical substance peptidoglycan. A lot of archaea’s are known for their ability to endure extremely harsh environments including extreme levels of salt, high temperatures or acid.
Extremophiles, or microbes reside in places such including salt flats, thermal pool, deep-sea vents, and thermal pools. Certain species are capable of a distinct chemical process that produces methane gas by combining hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The methane-producing archaea reside in environments that are oxygen-free like swamp dirt or the intestines and stomachs of ruminants like sheep and cattle. Collectively, this set of microorganisms has a wide range in the chemical modifications they produce in their environment.
Cells of microbes that are eukaryotic have a similarity to animal and plant cells in that their DNA is contained inside a nuclear membrane which is the nucleus. Microorganisms that are eukaryotic include protozoa, algae, and fungi. Collectively , protozoa and algae as well as a few fungi of lower levels are commonly known as Protists (kingdom Protista, also called Protoctista) Some are monocellular, while other multicellular.
Like bacteria algae are eukaryotes. They as plants, also contain the chlorophyll pigment, which is green. They conduct photosynthesis, and possess rigid cell walls. They typically live in moist soils and in aquatic environments. These eukaryotes can be monocellular and microscopic in their size, or multicellular as long as 120 meters (nearly 400 feet) in length. Algae in general display several shapes. Single-celled species could be rod-shaped, spherical or spindle-shaped, or club-shaped. Some are mobile. Multicellular algae can be seen in various shapes and levels of complexity. They are often composed of filaments of cells that are attached from end to end. In certain species, these filaments join into plant-like, macroscopic bodies. Algae are also found in colonies. Some are simply aggregations of single cells, whereas others have various cell types that have distinct purposes.
Fungi are eukaryotic species that are similar to algae. They possess rigid cell walls and are either multicellular or unicellular. Some are small in size, while others are much larger in structure like bracket fungi and mushrooms that develop in damp soil or on logs. As opposed to algae, fungi can lack chlorophyll, which means they are unable to perform photosynthesis.
They don’t ingest food, but they must absorb the dissolved nutrients of the surrounding environment. Of the fungi that are classified as microorganisms, those which have multicellular structures and produce filamentous microscopic structures are commonly called molds. On the other hand, yeasts are fungi that are unicellular.
In molds , cells are cylindrical in form and are joined end-to-end to form thread-like filaments (hyphae) which can bear spores. As a group, hyphae can be microscopic in dimensions. However, when large quantities of hyphae gather–for instance or on a piece of bread , or on a piece of fruit jelly, they create a fuzzy mass known as mycelium, which is apparent to an unaided eye. v
The yeasts that are unicellular come in a variety of varieties, ranging from spherical egg-shaped, to filamentous. They are known for their ability to convert carbohydrates, resulting in carbon dioxide and alcohol in beverages like wine and bread.
Protozoa or protozoans are single-celled microorganisms that are eukaryotic. Protozoa can be oval or spherical. Others are extended. Others have distinct forms at various stages of their life. They can grow as tiny as 1 millimeter in size and as big as 2,000 mm or 2 millimeters (visible in the absence of magnification). Similar to animal cells, protozoa have no wall cells, but are capable of moving at some phase of their life and also ingest food particles; however the protozoa of phytoflagellates are akin to plants, and obtain the energy they require through photosynthesis. Protozoan cells are characterized by the internal cells of an animal. Certain cells can swim through the water with the beat of their hair-like appendages (cilia) and flagella. Their swift, darting motion in a pond drop water is apparent when looking under the microscope.
Amoebas (also amoebae) are not swimmers but can crawl across surfaces by extending part of themselves in pseudopods, and after that allowing the rest the cell to flow through the extension. This kind of locomotion is referred to as amoeboid motion. These protozoans (phylum Apicomplexan) are so named since they form dormant bodies, referred to as spores, during the course of their lives. Protozoa are found in a variety of environments and are particularly prevalent in aquatic environments.
Viruses, which are considered to be to be living things, part of the field of microbiology. They come in a variety of forms, and are widespread in the natural world that infect plants, animal cells and microorganisms. The subject area where they are examined is known as the field of virology. All viruses are considered to be obligate parasites, that is to say they don’t have the metabolic machinery that they can use to generate the energy needed to generate proteins or create it and proteins, which is why they rely on cells of the host to perform the essential tasks.
Once inside a cell viruses possess genes that take over the cells’ energy-generating and protein-synthesizing mechanisms. Apart from their intracellular forms they also possess an extracellular version that transports the nucleic acid of the virus between host cells and the next. In this type of infectious form viruses consist of an nucleic acid , which is surrounded by a protective protein coat known as the capsid. The capsid shields genes that reside outside of the host cell. It is also a vehicle to allow entry into a host cell since it binds to receptors on the cell’s surface. The mature and structurally stable viral particle is known as virion.
The electron microscope is possible to identify the morphological features of viruses. They typically range in size between 20 and 300 nanometers (nm billionths of centimeter). Because the majority of viruses are smaller than 150 nanometers and are therefore over the resolution limit of the microscope light and are only visible with electron microscopy. Utilizing materials of known dimensions for comparison macroscopics can identify the size and shape of individual virions.
In comparison to viruses Prions (pronounced “pree-ons”) are the most basic of pathogens that cause disease. Similar to viruses, they are parasites, but they are not able to produce none of the genetic materials. While prions are self-replicating proteins, they have been linked to the cause of various ailments such as bovine spongiform and encephalopathy (mad cow disease) and may play an important role in the development of a variety of other diseases.
Lichens are a type of symbiosis. It is an interaction between two different organisms that each gains. Lichens are made up of the photosynthesis microbe (an alga or Cyanobacterium) that is growing in close relationship with an mushroom. A typical lichen comprises the top layer of a tight-woven mycelium of fungal life and a middle layer in which the microbe that is photosynthetic lives in, and a lower mycelium layer. Through this mutualistic relationship photosynthesis, the microbes that produce photosynthetic substances create nutrition for the fungus and in turn, the fungus serves as a protective layer to algae and Cyanobacteria. Lichens play a crucial ecological role, and among other things, they are capable of changing rock into soil.
The slime molds pose a biological and taxonomic puzzle as they’re neither normal protozoa or fungi. When they are in one of their developmental stages they resemble protozoa because they do not have cell walls, possess amoeboid movements, and also ingest particles of nutrients. At the time of their propagation, they develop fruiting bodies and sporangia which are walls-like spores similar to the normal fungi. The slime molds are classified as fungi. There are two kinds of slime molds, namely the slime molds with cells and the slime molds with acellular structure.
Study of microorganisms
Similar to many disciplines research, the study of microorganisms can be classified into two generalized , and sometimes overlaid categories. In contrast to basic microbiology, which addresses issues concerning the biology of microorganisms applied microbiology is the application of microorganisms in order to achieve specific goals.
The study of microorganisms’ biological processes requires the use of various procedures and specific equipment. The characteristics of microorganisms’ biology are summarized in one of the categories: Morphology nutrition as well as physiology, reproduction, growth metabolism, pathogenesis antigenicity, as well as genetic characteristics.
Morphology is the term used to describe the size, shape or arrangement of the cells. The examination of the microbial cell requires not only the use microscopes, but as well the preparation of cells in a way that is suitable for the specific kind of microscope. In the early years into the second half of 20th century it was the compound microscope that became the most common instrument employed in microbiology. Light microscopes usually have a magnification of 1000x and a maximum magnification of around 2000 x. It is possible to observe specimens after being stained with one of the many methods to reveal certain particular morphological features or in live unstained samples in “wet mount. “wet mount.”
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