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Microbiology is the scientific discipline focused on the study of microorganisms and of the effects they may have on other organisms. The term derives from the Greek words mīkros (meaning small), bios (meaning life), and logia (meaning study of). Generally, microorganisms are too small to be seen with the unaided eye. Microbiologists, scientists studying these small organisms, aid their observations with the use of such devices as microscopes (optical and electronic) and hand lenses.


Such organisms as bacteria, viruses, some algae and protozoa, and prions fall within the definition of microorganisms. Microorganisms constitute the majority of organisms; yet, only a very small percentage of the Earth's microbial species, populations and communities have been characterized scientifically.

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Bacteria Last Updated on 2013-07-12 03:45:42 Bacteria are any of a very large group of single-celled microorganisms that display a wide range of metabolic types, geometric shapes and environmental habitats—and niches—of occurrence.  Normally only several micrometers in length, bacteria assume the form of  spheres, rods, spirals and other shapes. Bacteria are found in a very broad gamut of habitats; for example, bacterial extremophiles that thrive in such places as hot springs, arctic environments, radioactive waste, deep sea oil seeps, deep Earth crustal environments, hypersaline ponds and within other living organisms. There are approximately 50 million bacterial organisms in a single gram of typical surface soil. The worldwide bacterial biomass exceeds that of all plants and animals on Earth. However, the majority of bacteria have not yet been characterised, Bacteria are members of the prokaryote... More »
Microbial life in undersea volcanoes Last Updated on 2013-07-11 11:30:13 Many of the lifeforms inhabiting the Earth live in sediments and rocks. The research reported here provides the first detailed data on methane-exhaling microbes that live deep in the cracks of hot undersea volcanoes. Scientists Define New Limits of Microbial Life in Undersea Volcanoes A third of Earth's organisms live in rocks and sediments, but their lives have been a mystery By some estimates, a third of Earth's organisms live in our planet's rocks and sediments, yet their lives are almost a complete mystery. This week, the work of microbiologist James Holden of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and colleagues shines a light into this dark world. In the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), they report the first detailed data on methane-exhaling microbes that live deep in the cracks of hot undersea volcanoes. "Evidence has... More »
Tropical coral reefs and environmental stress Last Updated on 2012-09-01 00:00:00 Corals that host fewer species of algae appear less sensitive to disturbances. The following article is part ten in a series on the National Science Foundation's Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network. Visit parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight and nine in this series. Tropical Reefs' Surviving Environmental Stresses: Corals' Choice of Symbiotic Algae May Hold the Key Symbiodinium, it's technically called, but more popularly it's known as zooxanthellae. Either way, these microscopic algae that live within a coral's tissues hold the key to a tropical reef's ability to withstand environmental stresses. The effects on tropical corals of global warming, ocean acidification, pollution, coastal development and overfishing may all come down to how choosy the corals are about their algae tenants. Reef corals are the sum of... More »
West Nile Virus Last Updated on 2012-08-23 00:00:00 Since 1999, more than 30,000 people in the United States have been reported as getting sick with West Nile virus. Infected mosquitoes spread West Nile virus (WNV) that can cause serious, life altering disease. West Nile Virus: What You Need To Know CDC Fact Sheet Download PDF version formatted for print [PDF - 2 pages]   What Is West Nile Virus?   West Nile virus (WNV) is a potentially serious illness. Experts believe WNV is established as a seasonal epidemic in North America that flares up in the summer and continues into the fall. This fact sheet contains important information that can help you recognize and prevent West Nile virus.   What Can I Do to Prevent WNV?   New! Prevention measures consist of community-based mosquito control programs that are able to reduce vector populations, personal protection measures to... More »
Human Microbiome Project Last Updated on 2012-08-20 00:00:00 The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) aims to characterize the microbial communities found at several different sites on the human body, including nasal passages, oral cavities, skin, gastrointestinal tract, and urogenital tract, and to analyze the role of these microbes in human health and disease. Human Microbiome Project Within the body of a healthy adult, microbial cells are estimated to outnumber human cells ten to one. This community, however, remains largely unstudied, leaving their influence upon human development, physiology, immunity, and nutrition almost entirely unknown. To take advantage of recent technological advances and to develop new ones, the NIH Common Fund Human Microbiome Project (HMP) was established with the mission of generating resources enabling comprehensive characterization of the human microbiota and analysis of their role in human health and... More »