The existence of microorganisms was predicted many centuries before they were first observed, for example by the Jains in India and by Marcus Terentius Varro in ancient Rome. The first recorded microscope observation was of the fruiting bodies of moulds, by Robert Hooke in 1666, but the Jesuit priest Athanasius Kircher was likely the first to see microbes, which he mentioned observing in milk and putrid material in 1658. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek is considered a father of microbiology as he observed and experimented with microscopic organisms in the 1670s, using simple microscopes of his own design. Scientific microbiology developed in the 19th century through the work of Louis Pasteur and in medical microbiology Robert Koch.
In 1676, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, who lived most of his life in Delft, Netherlands, observed bacteria and other microorganisms using a single-lens microscope of his own design. He is considered a father of microbiology as he used simple single-lensed microscopes of his own design. While Van Leeuwenhoek is often cited as the first to observe microbes, Robert Hooke made his first recorded microscopic observation, of the fruiting bodies of moulds, in 1665. It has, however, been suggested that a Jesuit priest called Athanasius Kircher was the first to observe microorganisms.
The field of bacteriology (later a subdiscipline of microbiology) was founded in the 19th century by Ferdinand Cohn, a botanist whose studies on algae and photosynthetic bacteria led him to describe several bacteria including Bacillus and Beggiatoa. Cohn was also the first to formulate a scheme for the taxonomic classification of bacteria, and to discover endospores. Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch were contemporaries of Cohn, and are often considered to be the fathers of modern microbiology and medical microbiology, respectively. Pasteur is most famous for his series of experiments designed to disprove the then widely held theory of spontaneous generation, thereby solidifying microbiology's identity as a biological science. One of his students, Adrien Certes, is considered the founder of marine microbiology. Pasteur also designed methods for food preservation (pasteurization) and vaccines against several diseases such as anthrax, fowl cholera and rabies. Koch is best known for his contributions to the germ theory of disease, proving that specific diseases were caused by specific pathogenic microorganisms. He developed a series of criteria that have become known as the Koch's postulates. Koch was one of the first scientists to focus on the isolation of bacteria in pure culture resulting in his description of several novel bacteria including Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis.
While Pasteur and Koch are often considered the founders of microbiology, their work did not accurately reflect the true diversity of the microbial world because of their exclusive focus on microorganisms having direct medical relevance. It was not until the late 19th century and the work of Martinus Beijerinck and Sergei Winogradsky that the true breadth of microbiology was revealed. Beijerinck made two major contributions to microbiology: the discovery of viruses and the development of enrichment culture techniques. While his work on the tobacco mosaic virus established the basic principles of virology, it was his development of enrichment culturing that had the most immediate impact on microbiology by allowing for the cultivation of a wide range of microbes with wildly different physiologies. Winogradsky was the first to develop the concept of chemolithotrophy and to thereby reveal the essential role played by microorganisms in geochemical processes. He was responsible for the first isolation and description of both nitrifying and nitrogen-fixing bacteria. French-Canadian microbiologist Felix d'Herelle co-discovered bacteriophages in 1917 and was one of the earliest applied microbiologists.
The branches of microbiology can be classified into applied sciences, or divided according to taxonomy, as is the case with bacteriology, mycology, protozoology, virology, phycology, and microbial ecology. There is considerable overlap between the specific branches of microbiology with each other and with other disciplines, and certain aspects of these branches can extend beyond the traditional scope of microbiology A pure research branch of microbiology is termed cellular microbiology.
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The Microbiology Society provides funds to support microbiologists and develop microbiology, teaching and research in countries defined as low-income or lower-middle-income economies by the World Bank.
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The Microbiology Society is fundraising for the Unlocking Potential Grant. Our members have a unique depth and breadth of knowledge about microbiology and our role is to help unlock and harness their potential.
Microbiologists pursue careers in many fields, including agricultural, environmental, food, and industrial microbiology; public health; resource management; basic research; education; and pharmaceuticals. Jobs in all of these fields are available at the BS level as well as the MS and PhD levels (see our guide for applying to graduate schools). The Microbiology major also incorporates the requirements expected for admission to medical, dental, and other health-professional schools, and to graduate schools in microbiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and related disciplines.
In 1998, Dr. Uhr stepped down as Chair after 25 years, and the Department was split and reorganized. Michael V. Norgard, Ph.D., became the new Chair of Microbiology, with the mission of expanding research in cellular microbiology, microbial pathogenesis, cell biology, virology, and host-parasite interactions. The Center for Immunology also was newly created, which eventually became the Department of Immunology, first directed by Ward Wakeland, Ph.D. and now under the direction of Lora Hooper, Ph.D..
Microbiology is now fully Open Access (OA). Find out more about the transformation of the Society's founding journal and its OA future here.As the founding journal from the Microbiology Society, Microbiology brings together communities of scientists from all microbiological disciplines and from around the world. Originally Journal of General Microbiology, we have been publishing the latest advances in microbiology since 1947. Today the journal reflects the diversity and importance of microbiology in addressing current global challenges, such as food security, environmental sustainability and health, by publishing fundamental and applied research across the breadth of the field. See full journal scopeBrowse these key collections:Microbe ProfilesSymbiosisImplications of climate change for terrestrial microbiomes and global cyclesFungal Spotlight: Host-associated microbiomesBacterial Cell Envelopes
The UAB Department of Microbiology is consistently ranked (#9 in NIH funding) amongst the best microbiology departments in the country, and faculty currently hold more than 85 grants and $19.5 million in extramural grant funding. We are a vibrant highly collaborative research community actively serving the university mission of excellence in research, service and teaching.
Microbiologists study all aspects of the biology and activities of organisms that cannot be seen with the naked eye, including viruses, bacteria, protozoa, fungi and algae. Microorganisms are often mistakenly feared because some do cause disease, but just as many are beneficial and even essential for the existence of all other forms of life, including ours. Microorganisms clean the environment and, in fermentations, they are used to produce foods, drinks, antibiotics and industrial chemicals. They are also used as the basic tools of genetic engineering and therefore have important applications in many medical, agricultural and commercial biotechnologies. The microbiology major provides students with an education in a variety of topics that together form a dynamic science. Microbiology offers many opportunities for students to pursue advanced studies in health-related fields and practical applications of microorganisms. Participation in hands-on laboratory experiments and frontier research is emphasized so that when students graduate they have the practical experience and expertise needed for careers in microbiology and related sciences.
Required supportive courses include one year of general biology, Calculus I and a math elective, one year of general chemistry, one year of organic chemistry lecture, one semester of organic chemistry lab and one year of general physics. Some of the necessary supportive courses must be taken before starting the major (biology, general chemistry, also recommended for calculus), and others may be completed while also taking microbiology courses (organic chemistry and physics). 59ce067264