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Microbiology - Types, Basics, and Branches

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What is Microbiology?

Microbiology is the branch of science that deals with the study of all living organisms that cannot be seen by the naked eye. The field pertains to the function, structure, and classification of such organisms.

Our daily lives are tightly interwoven with a varied range of microorganisms. In addition to residing on both the inner and outer surfaces of the human body, microorganisms populate soils, air, as well as sea. From being an integral part of the evolution of our planet to bringing immense value to Earth’s ecology; microorganisms continue to contribute to a number of causes.

This article attempts to define microbiology, the types of microbiology, its basics, and different techniques.

  • The basics of Microbiology lie in a diverse group of studies that help in research concerned with biochemistry, cell biology, ecology, evolution, as well as clinical aspects of microorganisms.

  • The genesis of Microbiology began with the discovery of the Microscope by Anton Von Leeuwenhoek.

  • Studies in the field are integral to the discovery of new and advanced methods for the study of emerging microorganisms and diseases associated with them.

  • The principles of Microbiology can be used in the creation of new genetically-engineered microorganisms.

Classification of Microorganisms

Depending on whether the microbes are contributing to the welfare of the planet and human beings or not, they can be classified into two broad categories: Harmful microorganisms and useful microorganisms.

Harmful Microorganisms

Microorganisms that bring about diseases in humans, animals and plants are counted among harmful microbes. They are also responsible for the deterioration of crops. In several cases, they multiply in food leading to food poisoning.

Examples of pathogenic diseases in humans-

  • Bacteria: Tetanus, pneumonia, diphtheria, bubonic plague, meningitis, typhoid, cholera

  • Virus:  Chickenpox, measles, mumps, warts, cold sores, influenza, polio

  • Fungi: ringworm, athlete’s foot, jock itch

  • Protozoa: amoebic dysentery, sleeping sickness, Malaria

Examples of pathogenic diseases in plants-

  • Bacteria: Vascular wilt, necrosis, tumours, soft rot

  • Virus: Bud blight, barley yellow dwarf

  • Fungi: Powdery mildew, fusarium rot, downy mildew

  • Protozoa: Sudden wilt diseases, heart rot disease

Useful Microorganisms

Useful microbes hugely benefit on a number of fronts.

  • Plant growth promoting Rhizobacteria- The Rhizosphere bacteria enhances plant growth in legumes using a wide variety of mechanisms like Biological Nitrogen Fixation and Phosphate solubilization.

  • Probiotics- Many microorganisms can be used for probiotics production. The most commonly used are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

  • Fermentation- Microorganisms play a crucial role in the large-scale production of alcohol. Fungi like Rhizopus and Penicillium are used to ferment fruits. Lactic Acid Bacteria are added to the milk inoculum at the beginning of the cheese production process to induce fermentation.

  • Enzyme production- Many microbes are useful in the production of important enzymes like lactase, lipase and protease.

  • Vaccine production- Dead or inactivated microbes are used in the production of a variety of vaccines.

Types of Microbiology

The vast field branches down creating several types of Microbiology. The prominent branches are mentioned below:

  • Virology: The branch of Microbiology for the study of viruses.

  • Bacteriology: The branch associated with the study of bacteria.

  • Protozoology: The field of Microbiology concerned with the study of protozoa.

  • Phycology/algology: The branch associated with the study of algae.

  • Parasitology: The branch associated with the study of parasites.

  • Nematology: The branch of Microbiology pertaining to the study of Nematodes.


In this article, we have attempted to define Microbiology, its types, and different techniques. It aims to offer a basic understanding of the core concepts of Microbiology. For more study material and revision notes, ensure to download the Vedantu app.

1. What is the Importance of Microorganisms?

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FAQs on Microbiology - Types, Basics, and Branches

1. What is the Importance of Microorganisms?

Microorganisms have various applications in our day to day lives. They are economically important as they are used in various industrial processes and manufacturing healthcare products. They are utilized for making various foods, treating wastewater, creating biofuels, and a wide range of chemicals and enzymes.  They are very important to agriculture through their roles in maintaining soil fertility and in decomposing organic matter. They are also used to produce energy, for example- in biogas reactors.

2. What is Microbiology?

Microbiology is a branch of science that deals with the scientific study of microbes. This includes organisms like bacteria, archaea, protozoans, algae, and so on. The organisms which are studied under microbiology may be unicellular or multicellular. But mostly these are microscopic organisms that are, we cannot see them with naked eyes.

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