Chapter 1. Scope & History
Why Study Microbiology
Microorganisms are the most abundant
and the ultimate
of biomass on Earth. As such,microorganisms drive the energy and nutrient flows of the whole ecosystem, onwhich human life depends.
Microbial inhabitants out-number human cells by 10-fold on an average body. They are mostly harmless, normal residents, existing on body partsexposed to the outside environment (such as skin and digestive tract).Many of them are beneficial to human health, providing necessarynutrients.
Microorganisms are used extensively in the production of food (e.g.,cheese, yogurt, bread, wine, beer, vinegar) and pharmaceuticals (e.g.,antibiotics, genetically-engineered human insulin)
Microbes: Less than 1% of known microbes are pathogens. Most pathogens belong to groups like bacteria, viruses, and fungi.Many normally harmless microbe become "opportunistic" pathogens in immune-comprised human hosts.
Microbes are indispensable research tools. They have simpler structures,reproduce quickly, and can be obtained in a large quantity. Most crucially,knowledge learned from model microorganisms (e.g.,
and yeast) helpunderstandings of basic human biology, because of the
(therefore, basic structure) of all life on earth.
Scope of Microbiology
Tree of Life:
The traditional 5-kingdom classification exaggerate the biodiversityvisible to human eyes (plans, animal). Contemporary classification is moreobjectively based on genes shared by all organisms. For example, a tree of life based on 16S ribosomal RNA showed
of life,including Eukarya, Bacteria, and Archaea.
Distance between organisms on the three-domain tree of life is proportional to their evolutionary and genetic distances. The visible biodiversity is only a tiny part of the overall phylogenetic diversity, whichconsists mostly of microorganisms.
of microbes: binomial naming system, e.g.
(first part genus name, capitalized, may be initialized; second partspecies name, all lower case; both italicized or underlined)
Organisms studied in Microbiology