Microbiology is a branch of science which deals with microbes, their characters, applications and other related concepts.
It also extends to aspects of how the body deals with microbes, how to control them for health and other benefits.
Microbiology has come a long way since the discovery of microbes.
It has contributed significantly to human life for various daily needs.
The knowledge is used in health care for prevention of diseases, diagnosis, sterilization methods and drug production.
Further, the knowledge is also extended into food production, production of alcohol, in agriculture, leather industry, etc.
Microbiology was a boon to control the mass human population eradicating epidemics like rabies, smallpox and other infectious diseases.
Importance of microbiology
The present society is so dependent on this science that without it there can no proper health care.
Importance of microbiology in nursing practice
Use of microbiology in nursing is concerned with diagnosis. It also helps to see how the patient’s health progresses during the treatment.
- Nurses use hot water or antiseptic as a measure to sterilize the surgical knives, needles, scissors and other metals instruments to free from microbes. They also use alcohol to clean the wounds as they know that alcohol destroys germs.
- Microbiology also gives knowledge to nurses on how to handle a patient and his samples infected with communicable diseases. Hence they use hand gloves, face masks to prevent being infected themselves.
- Many patients admitted to the hospital are prescribed with antibiotic as part of treatment. But not all of them will be effective for the patients. Then to test effectiveness, the patient’s sputum, fecal, urine or blood samples are taken. This sample is examined for the type of microbe and based on the identification, a suitable antibiotic is prescribed.
- The nurse can also identify the blood groups of the people by simple immune reactions. Identification of blood group helps to infuse correct blood group in case of emergency and avoid complications.
- It also helps detect diseases like Tuberculosis by simple skin test namely the Mantoux test.
- Also, diagnostic tests like Elisa, electrophoresis and radioimmunoassay also use principles of microbiology for identification of disease.
Importance of microbiology in pharmacy
Pharmacy and pharmaceutical companies use microbiology extensively. It is used
1) For the production of medicines like antibiotics, enzymes, vaccines, insulin, vitamins, steroids, etc. Some of the substance are exclusively obtained from microbial cultures.
Most antibiotics are obtained only from microbes. Vitamin-B12 (cyanocobalamin) is obtained from a culture of bacteria. Similarly, human insulin for diabetics is purely derived from the microbial culture by rDNA technology.
Initially, diabetics were given the injection of insulin obtained from animals. But due to massive demand and also compatibility problems (as it was not human-derived), there was a need for some other source of human insulin.
Then rDNA technique involving E.coli bacteria was adopted to produce large amounts of human insulin which are even safe.
See article on rDNA technology for more info.
Enzymes like streptokinase which help in the breakdown of clots are obtained from bacteria.
Vaccines are the medicines which help to prevent diseases and infections in future. There are different types of vaccines and of them live and dead vaccines are produced from bacteria.
Vitamins like especially vitamin B-12 (cyanocobalamin) is obtained from bacterial fermentation of genetically modified bacteria.
2) For sterilization of manufactured drugs. Manufactured drugs have an expiry date. This expiry date indicates till when the drug is active. Presence of microorganisms can enhance the degradation of the drug. Also, their presence can cause new infections to the patient when administered.
Hence drugs are to be kept free from any form of living organisms. Sterilization exactly achieves this and it destroys all the kinds of microbes. There are many types of sterilization see more details.
3) New drug discovery: Also, many new drugs are in the search by use of microbiology. Since many antibiotics, enzymes etc. were derived from microbes; still, the microorganisms are searched for more new drugs.
Importance of medical microbiology:
In medicine, microbiology is taught to let pupils understand
- Study of microbial diseases; i.e., what microorganism cause diseases like protozoa, bacterial, viral, fungal, etc. Their mechanism and pathology of illness etc.
- Diagnosis of disease; Even diagnosis of the disease-causing microbe is taught to give right drug and combat infection effectively. This diagnosis includes methods like microscopic observation, ELISA tests, western-blot, etc.
- Treatment of disease. One cannot blindly give an antibiotic if there is an infection. Identification of specific microbe helps to decide which antibiotic is needed. For example presence of mycobacterium requires anti-TB antibiotics and not routine antibiotics for complete cure. This identification of the specific organism is possible by microbiological assays.
Importance of microbiology in agriculture:
- Natural Pesticides: Few microbes like bacteria and virus are exploited against pest attacking farm crops. Hence they are called natural pesticides. They are so specific to the pests or insects and don’t cause any harm to the plant or animals and humans.
- Natural manures: Few microbes like algae and bacteria are grown up to enhance soil fertility by fixing nitrogen and also water retaining the capacity of the soil. Thus they also maintain soil microbiology suitable for plant growth. Crop rotation is a technique adopted by farmers to enhance soil fertility by use of microbes in roots of leguminous plants.
- Decompose the waste: Microbes decompose the synthetic pesticide residues and other toxic material in agriculture soil and thereby protecting farms from toxin accumulation.
Importance of environmental microbiology:
- Microbes in the environment play an important role in scavenging. This means they clear any dead and decaying matter on the surface, in air and water.
- Without microbes, this earth would have been full of corpses, i.e., dead bodies. Microbes decay any organic substance directly and inorganic substances indirectly.
- Role of microorganisms in wastewater treatment: Wastewater is treated by microbes to free from all garbage. This is termed as biological oxygen demand. i.e., amount of oxygen required by microbes to decay on quintal (100kg) of waste.
Importance of soil microbiology:
Soil microbiology is very important to maintain soil structure and nature.
- The layers of soil which have microbes support the growth of plants due to more water and fertility.
- Microbes in soil keep up water, the earth having microbes has higher water holding capacity.
- The humus is the top layer of soil rich in microbes suitable for plant growth. This is because microbes produce natural organic fertilizers which are compatible and easy to absorb.and also fertility.
- Microbes decay the waste remnants in the soil and make it hard. All the fossil fuels are processed by microbes.
Other application of microbiology
In Industry microbiology is highly used in manufacturing and processing of drugs, alcohol, food, etc.
See applications of “Enzyme Immobilization: Applications in diagnosis & medicine production.”
Note: Also mention any other uses of microbiology if you know below in comments. Thanks.