Microbiology

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.

  • Virus Featured Article Virus Virus

    A virus is a microscopic organism that can replicate only inside the cells of a host organism. Most viruses are so tiny they are only observable with at least a conventional... More »

  • Microbial life in undersea volcanoes Featured News Article Microbial life in undersea volcanoes Microbial life in undersea volcanoes

    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... More »

  • Atlantic hydrothermal vent life Featured News Article Atlantic hydrothermal vent life Atlantic hydrothermal vent life

    Explorers on NOAA expedition discover chemosynthetic shrimp, tubeworms together for first time at hydrothermal vent, also first live vent tubeworms seen in Atlantic waters... More »

  • Climate Adaptation of Rice Featured Article Climate Adaptation of Rice Climate Adaptation of Rice

    Climate Adaptation of Rice Symbiogenics: A New Strategy for Reducing Climate Impacts on Plants Rice–which provides nearly half the daily calories for the... More »

  • Amino acid Featured Article Amino acid Amino acid

    An amino acid is any of a class of organic acids, whose molecules consists of a terminal amine group, an organic side chain (or simply a hydrogen atom) bonded to one of the... More »

  • Catching a Coral Killer Featured News Article Catching a Coral Killer Catching a Coral Killer

    First ever case of human-caused marine disease. Catching a Coral Killer Coral reefs play an important role in marine ecosystems, so it's concerning to scientists,... More »

  • Yellow Fever Featured Article Yellow Fever Yellow Fever

    Introduction Centers for Disease Control and Prevention     Yellow fever is a viral disease that is transmitted to humans... More »

Recently Updated
Fungi Last Updated on 2014-08-28 00:25:51 The word fungus usually invokes images of mushrooms and toadstools. Although mushrooms are fungi, the forms which a fungus may take are varied. There are over 100,000 species of described fungi and probably over 200,000 undescribed. Most fungi are terrestrial, but they can be found in every habitat worldwide, including marine (500 spp.) and freshwater environments. Fungi are nonmotile, filamentous eukaryotes that lack plastids and photosynthetic pigments. The majority of fungi are saprophytes; they obtain nutrients from dead organic matter. Other fungi survive as parasitic decomposers, absorbing their food, in solution, through their cell walls. Most fungi live on the substrate upon which they feed. Numerous hyphae penetrate the wood, cheese, soil, or flesh in which they are growing. The hyphae secrete digestive enzymes that break down the substrate, enabling the fungus to absorb the... More »
Cells Last Updated on 2014-06-30 14:15:10 Cells are the smallest component of the body that can perform all of the basic life functions. Each cell performs specialized functions and plays a role in the maintenance of homeostasis. While each cell is an independent entity, it is highly affected by damage to neighboring cells. These various cell types combine to form tissues, which are basically collections of specialized cells that perform a relatively limited number of functions specific to that type of tissue. The human body is made up of several trillion cells; these cells are of various types, which can differ greatly in size, appearance and function.   While there are approximately 200 types of cells, they all have similar features: cell membrane, cytoplasm, organelles, and nucleus. The only exception is that the mature red blood cell does not contain a nucleus. In general, toxins can injure any of the components of... More »
Composting tips Last Updated on 2014-06-29 18:07:28 Composting turns household wastes into valuable fertilizer and soil organic matter. All organic matter eventually decomposes. Composting speeds the process by providing an ideal environment for bacteria and other decomposing microorganisms. The final product, humus or compost, looks and feels like fertile garden soil. This dark, crumbly, earthy-smelling stuff works wonders on all kinds of soil and provides vital nutrients to help plants grow and look better. Decomposing organisms consist of bacteria, fungi, and larger organisms such as worms, sow bugs, nematodes, and numerous others. Decomposing organisms need four key elements to thrive: nitrogen, carbon, moisture, and oxygen. For best results, mix materials high in nitrogen (such as clover, fresh grass clippings, and livestock manure) and those high in carbon (such as dried leaves and twigs). If there is not a good supply of... More »
Marine microbes Last Updated on 2014-06-18 17:12:26 The term 'Marine microbes' encompasses all microscopic organisms generally found in saltwater. Most micro-organisms are acellular and fall into the major categories of viruses, prokaryotes ('bacteria'), and protists, groups which differ considerably in biological characteristics. While representatives of these groups are found in virtually everywhere in marine waters and they play nearly every ecological role imaginable, their most important function is that they form the base of the food chain in marine ecosystems. Well-known to us as disease-causing agents, viruses are deceivingly simple organisms, little more than some nucleic acid within a protein container. They are 'parasitic particles' most about 40 nanometers in size. Viruses attach themselves to a living cell and inject a bit of nucleic acid into the cell; the injected nucleic acid... More »
Arctic marine environments Last Updated on 2014-06-18 16:42:07 This is Section 10.2.1 of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment Lead Author: Michael B. Usher; Contributing Authors:Terry V. Callaghan, Grant Gilchrist, Bill Heal, Glenn P. Juday, Harald Loeng, Magdalena A. K. Muir, Pål Prestrud The arctic marine environment covers about 13 million km2, of which about 45% is a permanent ice cap that covers part of the Arctic Ocean. Seasonal sea ice forms during winter, and recedes during the short arctic summer, exposing large areas of open water. The marine environment is thus dominated by sea ice and by the dynamics of that ice and especially the location of the ice edge. The transition zone between the sea ice and the open water has intense algal growth in spring and summer, and it is the primary production by these phytoplankton that supports the arctic marine food webs. Only in exceptional cases can the energy that drives the marine food... More »