Specific Specializations in Microbiology

Bacteriology: Bacteriology is simply defined as the study of bacteria. Bacteriologists are microbiologists that are devoted to the study of bacteria especially those that are pathogenic i.e. disease-causing bacteria. They work in hospitals, research institutions, veterinary centers, university, government agencies and other areas where pathogenic bacteria are the microorganisms of interest.

Virology: Virology is defined as the study of viruses. Microbiologists that exclusively study viruses, their properties and the diseases they cause are called virologists. Virologists work in hospitals, research institutions, educational institutions (as educators and researchers), in government agencies and in pharmaceutical companies where there knowledge about viruses are harnessed to solve infectious diseases caused by viral agents.

Parasitology: Parasitology is the study of parasites or worms and even insects or arthropods that act as transmission vehicles or vectors for infectious diseases and their causative agents in both human and animal populations. Another related area to parasitology is protozoology which is the study of parasites and how their association with plants, animals and humans can cause infection or disease. Protozoalogists study protozoa or parasites.

Mycology: Mycology is simply defined as the study of fungi including yeasts, moulds, mushrooms and slime moulds. Microbiologists that exclusively study fungi are called mycologists. They are found in the industries, hospitals, food industries, the academia and pharmaceutical companies amongst other areas where their services as it relates to fungi are required.

Algology/phycology: Algology or phycology is defined as the study of algae. It is noteworthy that algae consist of both microscopic (invisible) and macroscopic (visible) forms. But due to the scope of microbiology, only microscopic algae of utmost importance to algologists (i.e. microbiologists that study algae) are usually studied in the field of microbiology.

Geochemical microbiology: Geochemical microbiology is the branch of microbiology that studies the applications of microorganisms in the mining of metals, crude oil and other natural resources from their natural sources or the ground. Microorganisms are currently being exploited in a number of mining and oil recovery activities. They have also been used to prospect for oil, gas and coal in areas deemed to be low in these resources.

Aero microbiology: Aero microbiology is largely concerned with the role of microorganisms in the air and in the contamination and spoilage of food, wine and beverages. It also specializes in the monitoring of dissemination of air-borne diseases in plant, animal and human populations. Aero microbiologists also evaluate the quality and quantity of air available for both human and animal activities; and the significance of bioaerosols in causing morbidity and mortality in human populations. Bioaerosols are microbial suspensions or airborne particles produced by microbes including fungi, bacteria and viruses, and which are mainly found in the atmosphere.

Bioaerosols are composed of a variety of microbes and particles inclusive of live, dormant and dead microbes as aforementioned as well as other microbial toxins and other high molecular weight compounds that are of public health importance. Continued uncontrolled exposure of humans to these bioaerosols especially those working in certain occupations (e.g., composters, farmers, abattoir workers and construction workers) that predispose them to significant accumulation or inhalation of toxic biological agents are at a higher risk of becoming ill from exposure to bioaerosols. Most infectious disease agents are dispersed through the air in aerosols or in their spore or dormant state; and this is particularly the case for pathogenic fungi and other microbes that are mostly dispersed as spores through dust particles in the air.

Exo microbiology: Though still in its infancy, exo microbiology is the branch of microbiology that specializes in the exploration of microbial life in the outer space.


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