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Definition of Microbiology

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Updated April 17, 2009

Definition: Microbiology is the study of microorganisms.

Microbiology can be defined as the biology of microscopic organisms, or life too small to be seen with the naked eye. Microbiology covers several disciplines, including virology (study of viruses), bacteriology (study of bacteria), mycology (study of fungi), and parasitology (study of parasites). Each of these disciplines may include but is not limited to studies of infectious disease-causing microorganisms.

For example, specialties within microbiology may include microbial physiology (i.e., microbial growth, metabolism, structure), microbial genetics and evolution, environmental microbiology (i.e., microbial ecology), industrial microbiology (i.e., industrial fermentation, wastewater treatment), and food microbiology (i.e., use of microbes for food production, fermentation).

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