Most people know that biology deals with the study of plants and animals, and probably recognize it as a science. Textbooks define biology as the science that deals with the study of life. This appears to be a simple, straight forward definition until the word science and life are considered.
Science is the study of collection of knowledge of natural events and materials in an orderly fashion for the purpose of learning the basic laws that govern these events. The information (fact) is collected and the scientist uses certain rules in order to place these facts into a sensible framework.
Rules, laws, and principles are developed as scientists begin to see patterns or relationships among a number of isolated facts. Some rules are very old while others are being constructed today.
The method of collecting information and the way in which it is organized is really what makes something’s a science. The laws and rules are continually tested by the addition of new bits of information. If the new information can fit into the constructed framework, it reinforces the framework.
Biology is a broad science that draws on chemistry and physics for its foundation and applies these basic physical laws to living things. Because there are millions of kinds of living organisms, there are a very large number of special study areas in biology.
Practical biology such as medicine, agriculture, plant breeding, and dentistry is balanced by more theoretical biology—evolutionary biology, molecular genetics, and “recreational” biology like insect-collecting and bird-watching. Biology is a science that deals with living organism and how they interact with the environment around them.
Since the prefix “micro” means small, microbiology must be the biology of small living things. In fact, microbiology is the branch of biology that deals mainly with the study of microscopic organisms called microbes, which are composed of only one cell.
Organisms not usually included in this study are those that are composed of many cells. Trees, grass, humans, and animals have many cells arranged into tissues, organs, and organ systems. These other life forms are studied in the related sciences of botany and zoology.
Because of the small size of microbe, microbiologists must study their cells using special equipment and procedures. Microscopes, test tubes, and chemicals are very important tools to a microbiologist.
Much of the work is done to understand better the chemical reactions that occur in living cells. This strong connection between chemistry and biology has led to the development of a separate science called molecular biology.
Molecular biology focuses on the kinds of molecules found in living cells, their behaviour, and how they work together to make a cell alive. Information gained from each of these three sciences (microbiology, chemistry, and molecular biology) is frequently shared.
Since the cell is the basic unit of all life as we know it, the study of microbes provides much information in the fields of genetics (inheritance), physiology (function), and biochemistry (chemistry of life). As a result, there has been a great deal of knowledge gained, and we have come ‘to understand better the influence of microbes on humans and the environment.
There are many places in our environment where microbes and the results of their activities can be seen. Both our natural and man- made worlds contain microbes of many kinds. Each type of microbe has special qualities which enable it to survive in such unique places as the soil, oceans, rivers and streams, ice, water pipes, concrete, hot springs, the human intestine, roots of plants, and even oil wells.
Because many types of microbes have become specialized to live in unique environments, microbiologists have specialized the study of certain groups of microbes Microbiology is subdivided into a number of diverse fields.
Bacteriology is the study of the bacteria, virology the study of viruses, protozoology the study of protozoans, phrenology the study of algae, and mycology is the study of fungi such as yeast and molds.
These fields center on the kinds of organisms under study. Other fields of microbiology center on where the microbes grow and have the most significant effects. These include such areas as medical microbiology, food microbiology, agriculture, waste treatment and industrial microbiology.