By December 11, 2017

The evolution of microbiology

In the fascinating and vital world of science, microbiology is widely thought of as one of the most important disciplines. In simple terms, it is the scientific study of the billions of microorganisms that make up our world. These microorganisms are also known as microbes and are found not only all around us but also in our bodies.

Indeed, there are more microorganisms in your body than your own cells, which shows how vital it is to study them. From door handles to mobile phone screens, these tiny organisms are a natural part of our daily lives. The specific types of microorganism include bacteria, fungi, algae and protozoa. While most of these microbes do us no harm, some are pathogens, which can make us very ill if they invade our bodies.

Microbiology was founded as a way of finding out more about these microbes, particularly the ones dangerous to our health, so that we can combat them effectively.

 

Microbiology begins

As a science, microbiology can trace its roots back to 1675 when it was founded by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek. Using a microscope that he had built himself, Van Leeuwenhoek was the first to discover hard proof of there being forms of life not visible to the naked eye. Although this possibility had been talked about previously, Van Leeuwenhoek was the first person to prove it scientifically.

Before this, the reasons why food would spoil or cheese was made were a mystery. With the discovery by Van Leeuwenhoek and the subsequent founding of microbiology, this all changed. Although others would continue to push the science forward, none of that would have been possible without Van Leeuwenhoek’s initial contribution.

 

Spallanzani pushes into new frontiers

Following the discovery of microbes and the founding of microbiology, the next important scientist in this area was Lazzaro Spallanzani, who lived from 1729 to 1799. He found that boiling a broth would kill off microbes to make it sterile and also that new microbes would only form when the broth became exposed to the air. These observations were important as it showed people how to make something safe that may not be sterile as well as how to stop food going bad.

 

Pasteur breaks new ground

Living from 1822 to 1895, Pasteur took the findings by Spallanzani and pushed them further. He used the same method of boiling broth but tested how the broth reacted with the air when a filter was introduced. He also used no filters at all in some tests and the results were astounding.

By using curved tubes to admit air to the containers that held the broth, he stopped dust particles from entering the broth. In all his tests, the broth never spoilt, which led him to conclude that any living organisms in it were caused by outside sources, such as dust spores in the air. This led to the creation of Germ Theory and the rejection of the previously held belief of Spontaneous Creation.

 

Koch learns how microbes cause disease

In 1876, scientist Robert Koch made a major breakthrough in microbiology. He found that by injecting the blood of cattle sick with anthrax into a healthy animal, the healthy animal would then become sick with the same disease. This showed hard proof that there was a direct link between microbes and disease, which was a stunning discovery at the time. His theory became known as Koch’s Postulate and is still used today in cases where it is still relevant.

 

Routes into microbiology

Microbiology is an exciting sphere to be involved in as it is constantly evolving and also provides vital research into diseases that affect us all. The discoveries that microbiology can bring about around a certain illness can make a real difference in it being effectively combated or eradicated.

If you would like to become a microbiologist yourself, then it is a great profession to enter. You will need a bachelor’s degree in the relevant area to begin with, and this will give you access to entry-level positions such as a research scientist or technician. Many will also complete further master’s and doctoral qualifications to allow them to progress further in this field.

In terms of the careers open to you, microbiology offers a wide scope. From working in universities to hospitals and private research labs, there are lots of ways to move into microbiology once you have the necessary qualifications.

If you need proof of what a fantastic career you can build in microbiology, Dr Robert Ryan, Dundee and others like him can give you that.

 

Microbiology will continue to evolve

Like all the sciences, the world of microbiology will naturally move forward as new discoveries are made. In many ways, this is what makes it one of the most exciting sciences to be involved in. You never know just what you will find when you look into the microscope and how great an impact it may have for millions of people worldwide.

Posted in: Editorial

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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