Microbiology: An Introduction


What is Microbiology?

Microbiology is the study of microorganisms. It is a study of major importance in the clinical, medical, environmental and food industries.

What are Microorganisms?

Microorganisms are organisms who are usually too small to be seen with the naked eye. Generally, a microscope is used to see such small organisms.


Coacervates are spherical aggregations of lipid molecules making up an inclusion which is held together by hydrophobic forces. Coacervates measure between 1 and 100 micrometres. They possess osmotic qualities and form spontaneously from certain weak organic solutions.


Microspheres are firm spheres which form when hot saturated solutions of proteinoids cool. They were first reported in 1959 by Sidney Fox, K Harada and J Kendrick. They proposed that microspheres might represent a significant early stage in pre-cellular evolution. It has been suggested that their greater stability makes them a better preposition in regard to coacervates. Fox recently argued that microspheres also display characteristics of primitive nerve cells.

Major People/Events in Microbiological History

Prior to any microbiological turning points, it was believed that living organisms could arise from non-living material. Even Greek philosophers believed it!

Girolamo Fracostoro

Fracostoro proposed that epidemic diseases were caused by tiny invisible "Seminaria" (seeds)

Francesco Redi

Redi scientifically challenged the belief of spontaneous generation. He placed decaying meat into 3 seperate containers. One container was covered with a lid of paper, one was covered with a lid of fine gauze and the third was left uncovered. After a week or so, the uncovered meat was infested with maggots, the container with gauze did not have contaminated meat, but the maggots rested atop the gauze. The container with a paper lid was completely uncontaminated.

In 1861, Pasteur further challenged the theory of spontaneous generation. Heating broth culture in a normal glass vial didn't prevent the reforming of bacterial culture. In accordance to this, Pasteur used a swan neck glass which collected any air particles at the neck and prevented any getting into the broth culture.

Anthony van Leeuwenhoek

Leeuwenhoek is seen as the father of bacteriology and protozoology. He built his own microscope and sent letters and sketches of his findings to The Royal Society of London. He named his discoveries animalcules (where we get the word "Molecule" from).

Ignatz Semmelweiss

Semmelweiss demonstrated that perpetual fever (a major cause of death on maternity wards at the time)  could be prevented if the hospital staff washed their hands before delivering babies. After realising that the rate of infection was higher after doctors worked on dead bodies, Semmelweiss suggested that "cadaverous material" was responsible for perpetual fever and recommended Handwashing protocols. His findings were rejected and he died 15 years later of blood poisoning. After his death, he was viewed as a pioneer of antiseptics.

Prior to the theory of disease, "miasma" or bad air was thought to be the cause of diseases like cholera.

John Snow

Snow believed that cholera entered the body orally. His theory was proved during the Soho cholera outbreak. The source was identified as a


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