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What is Microbiology? Birth and Historical Development

The name of the branch of science that studies and researches microorganisms is microbiology. Bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa and viruses are the main groups of microorganisms. Microbiology investigates the shape, structure, reproduction, physiology, metabolism and classification of these organisms.

The world we live in is full of organisms that we cannot see with the naked eye. These life forms called microorganisms or microbes can only be seen with the help of a microscope. Although they are small, the effects of microorganisms on humans and the world are in an important position to ensure the continuation of life on earth. Therefore, it is impossible for people to get rid of the effects of microorganisms, even if they do not want to.

Microbes are part of the life we live. We share our environment and facilities with them. Their activities affect our daily life as well as our future. It is not possible to think of microorganisms outside of human life. We should think and accept them as a part of our world.

We have to have knowledge about microorganisms and their activities. However, thanks to this knowledge, we can control them and eliminate or minimise their harmful effects and make the best use of them.

What is Microbiology? Historical Development

In 1674, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, an amateur optician, discovered a new world with his simple microscope. Only a few scientists had previously had any idea of the existence of this microscopic realm and its inhabitants. Leeuwenhoek called the creatures he saw in samples taken from contaminated water, food and his mouth animalcules and reported them in a series of letters to the Royal Society of London. Apparently, these creatures were found everywhere.

Leeuwenhoek's discovery of microorganisms explained why many foods and drinks were spoilt. As it is known, when food and drinks are left in the open for a sufficient period of time, organisms grow in or on them and change their colour, taste and appearance. 

200 years after Leeuwenhoek saw microorganisms, French chemist Louis Pasteur led the development of microbiology with his researches.

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