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Introduction

Microbiologyderivedfromthree(3) Greek words:


mikros(small),bios(life) andlogos(science)
Takentogether, Microbiologymean thestudyof microscopic organisms - invariablyrefers to the
minute living body which are very small ( having diameter 0.1 to 0.2 mm ) and not
perceptibleto thenakedeyes,especiallyabacteriumor protozoon.
Microbiology is the specific branch of biology that essentially deals with the elaborated
investigationof microscopic organisms termed as microbes, that arecomposed of onlyone
cell.
Microbiology is an exceptionally broad discipline encompassing specialties as diverse as
biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, taxonomy, pathogenic bacteriology, food and industrial
microbiology,andecology.
A microbiologist must be acquainted with many biological disciplines and with all major groups
of microorganisms:viruses,bacteria,fungi,algae,andprotozoa.
Introduction
Microorganismscarriedfromonehost toanother asfollows:
(a) Animal Sources- Certainorganismsarepathogenic for humansaswell asanimalsand
maybecommunicatedto humansviadirect,indirect,or intermediaryanimal hosts.
(b) Air borne - Pathogenic microorganisms in the respiratory track may be discharged
fromthe mouth or nose into theair and usuallysettle on food, dishes or clothing. They
maycarryinfectionif theyresist drying.
(c) Contact Infections - Direct transmission of bacteria from one host to another
sexuallytransmitteddiseases(STD).
(d) Food borne - Food as well as water may contain pathogenic organisms usually
acquired from the handling the food by infected persons or via fecal or insect
contamination.
(e) Fomites- Inanimate objects e.g. books, cookingutensils, clothingor linens that could
serveto transport themfromonelocationto another.
(f) HumanCarriers- Persons who haverecovered froman infectious disease do remain
carriersof theorganismcausingtheinfectionandmaytransfer theorganismto another.
(g) Insects- Insectsmaybethephysical carriers,for instanceor act as intermediatehosts
suchas:Anophelesmosquito.
(h) Soil borne - Spore-forming organisms in the soil may enter the body via a cut or
wound. Invariablyfruits and vegetables, particularlyroot andtuber crops, need thorough
cleansingbeforebeingeatenraw.
Introduction
Early microbiology topics divided into specific fields:
1. Bacteriology : Bacteria & Archaea
2. Mycology : Fungi
3. Phycology : Algae
4. Parasitology : Protozoa and Parasitic Worms
5. Virology : Viruses
6. Immunology : Host Immunity & Vaccines
7. Recombinant DNA Technology : insertion of genes into microbes
to produce Therapeutics Microbes
Introduction
The Discovery of Microorganisms
Even before microorganisms were seen, some investigators suspected their existence and
responsibility for disease. Among others, the Roman philosopher Lucretius (about 9855
B.C.) andthephysicianGirolamo Fracastoro (14781553) suggestedthat diseasewas caused
byinvisiblelivingcreatures.Theearliest microscopic observations appear to havebeenmade
between 1625 and 1630 on bees and weevils by the Italian Francesco Stelluti, using a
microscopeprobablysuppliedbyGalileo.
However, the first person to observe and describe microorganisms accurately was the amateur
microscopist Antony van Leeuwenhoek (16321723) of Delft, Holland. Beginning in 1673
Leeuwenhoek sent detailedletters describinghis discoveries to theRoyal Societyof London.
It isclear fromhisdescriptionsthat hesawbothbacteriaandprotozoa.
Although microorganisms are ancient by many standards, microbiology itself is a comparatively
new science. The existence of microorganisms was unknown until the discovery of
Microscope( inventedinthebeginningof 17
th
century).
Introduction
Characteristics of Microorganisms
1. Their sizeis verysmall. Viruses maybe10times smaller. Eachmicrobe contains inits genome
thecapacityto reproduceitsownkind.
2.Thereisno cellular differentiation.Theyareunicellular andonecell iscapableof performingall
the functions. Some microorganisms are multicellular when cosidered as microbes (fungi,
algae) withlittleor no cellular differentiation.
3. Microorganisms are present everywhere on the bodies of animals and humans, on plant
surfaces, in the air, water, dust, soil, and even inside the intestinal canal especially in the large
intestine ,skin , eyes , urethra , upper throat , mouth, nose of all insects, birds, animals and
humanbeings.
Society benefits frommicroorganisms in many ways. They are necessary for the production of
bread, cheese, beer, antibiotics, vaccines, vitamins, enzymes, and many other important
products. Microorganisms are indispensible components of our ecosystems. They make
possible the cycles of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur that take place in terrestrial and
aquatic ecosystems. They also are a source of nutrients at the base of all ecological food
chainsandwebs.Indeed,modernbiotechnologyrestsuponamicrobiological foundation.
Three Domains of Life
Historical Developments of Microbiology
Some momentous discoveries in science were made by amateurs, rather than by
professional scientists.
Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632 -1723) known as the Father of Microbiology,
stalwarts,wasapioneer inthefieldof Microscopyandusedmicroscopesof hisown
design and manufacture. He was a linen merchant who built microscopes as a
hobby. He made about 500 optical lenses that could magnifyobjects 275 times and
wasanamazingfeat.
He enjoyed usinghis microscopes to look at the various things includingriver water,
pepper infusions, salivafeces and more. He communicated his findings to the Royal
Society of London in the formof longseries of letters which were translated and
publishedintheProceedings of Royal Society.
Historical Developments of Microbiology
Leeuwenhoek hadunusual degreeof curiosityandobservedeveryobject that couldbe
seen through his microscope. He was one of the greatest Innovators driven by
curiosityandinfiniteenergy.
Inhisletter of September 17,1683withhisdrawingsabout animals inthescrapingsof
teethhedescribeddifferent typesof bacteriaandcalledthemanimalcules .
He also made magnificent observations on the microscopic structure of seeds,
embryosof plantsandsomeinvertebrateanimals.
He discovered Spermatozoa, RBC and is therefore known as Father of Animal
Histology.
He described characteristic microflora of human mouth, curd, vinegar and different
types of microorganisms known today including protozoa, algae, yeast and
bacteria.
Antony Von Leeuwenhoek Leeuwenhoeks microscope
Leeuwenhoekssketchesof
bacteria from the human
mouth.
Historical Developments of Microbiology
Historical Developments of Microbiology
Discovery of microorganisms by Leeuwenhoek, from the point of view of the two
thought;
TheoryofAbiogenesis
Theoryof Biogenesis
Theory of Abiogenesis or the concept of spontaneous generation i.e. living
animalculesareformedspontaneouslyfromnonlivingmatter. (Prevailingthoughts)
Theory of biogenesis i.e. they are formed from the seeds or germs of these
animalculeswhicharealways present intheair.(Virchow,1858)
It was also believed at that time that many plants and animals can be generated
spontaneouslyunder special conditions.
Historical Developments of Microbiology
BiogenesisVersus Abiogenesis
It took several clever experiments, which appear too simple today, and more than
hundred years to resolve the controversy. The abiogenesis for plants and animals
wasdisapprovedasaresult of theexperiments.
Italian Physician Fransesco Redi in 1665, showed that maggots (the larval stages of
flies) developing in putrefying meat and will never appear if the meat is well
protectedinavessel withthefinegaugemeshso that flies cannot laytheir eggs on
meat.
In 1745, JohnNeedhamtook hot boilingmutton gravy (meat infusion) in aflask and
closed this flask with a cork. He found the spoilage of this infusion and observed
animalcules in it. He killed and destroyed the living matter by boiling and thus
concludedthat animalcules arosespontaneouslyfromthemeat.
Historical Developments of Microbiology
In 1769, Spallanzani an Italian naturalist performed a series of experiments and
showed that heating can prevent appearance of animalcules in infusion although
duration and level of heating required is variable. He was not satisfied with using
cork to plug the flask and sealed it hermetically to prevent contact with the air
completely. He found that sealed infusions remained barren for alongtime. A tiny
crack intheflask canresult in development of animalcules andtheywill not appear
unlessnewair enteredtheflask to comeincontact withtheinfusion.
Spallanzani took a series of flasks and gave heat treatments for different interval of
times. He could distinguish animalcules of different types, i.e., Superior or
animalcules of higher class which were destroyed by slight heating undoubtedly
protozoaand animalcules of lower class which were very minute, and much more
heat resistant - thebacteria.
Historical Developments in Microbiology
Although the experiments Spallanzani conducted were very good but faulty
experiments continued to be performed and evidence gathered in favor of
abiogenesis. Moreover, Needhamobjected to theobservations bySpallanzani that
therewasno growthintheinfusionsbecauseair whichisessential for lifehadbeen
excludedfromhisflasks.
An interestingpractical application of Spallanzanis observation was done by Francois
Appert,1805 for preservation of foods by enclosing themin airtight containers
and then heating the containers called Appertization (canning called later). He
performedanexperiment byfirst makingtheair freeof microorganisms bypassing
it through red hot tube. This air which still contained 19.4 %oxygen, with and
without heatingwas passed through aset of flasks containingboiled infusions, the
former remainedunaffected.
Historical Developments of Microbiology
The greatest biologists of the 19
th
century, Louis
Pasteurs (1822-1895, France) contributions are
the most significant in the history of science and
industry and his work with germs and
microorganisms opened new areas of scientific
studies.
Pasteur first demonstratedthroughaseries of definitive
experiments that air contains microscopically
observableorganizedbodies.
Proof of Biogenesis
Louis Pasteur
Historical Developments of Microbiology
Proof of Biogenesis
Louis Pasteurs aspirated large quantities of air through a tube which
containedaplugof cottonto serveasafilter.
Heremovedthecottonplugandsuspendedit inasolutionof alcohol andether.
Whenheexaminedthesedimentsmicroscopicallyheobservedthepresenceof
small oval shapedbodies.
Helater confirmedthat whenheatedair is passedthroughaboiled infusionno
microbial development takes place but when cotton plug is suspended in the
heatedinfusion,microbial growthoccurs.
Pasteur repeated his experiment through swan necked and goose neck flasks so
that the germs fromair cannot ascend into it. He boiled the broth in it to kill all
microorganisms in the neck as well as in the flask. The infusion remained sterile in
this flask until the neck of the flask was broken resulting in the growth of
microorganisms. Thus he established that development of microorganisms in
organicinfusionsbringabout chemical changes.
Louis Pasteurs experiment
Historical Developments in Microbiology
Proof of Biogenesis
One of the traditional arguments against biogenesis was the claimthat heat used to
sterilize the air or specimens was destroying an essential vital force. Those
supporting abiogenesis said that, without this force, microorganisms could not
spontaneouslyappear.
In response to this argument, an English Physicist John Tyndall (1820-1883) conducted
experiments inaspeciallydesigned box called Tyndall chamber to prove that dust
carriesthegerms.
Tyndall demonstrated that if no dust was present, sterile broth remained sterile for
indefinite period. While doing these experiments, Tyndall (1877) also devised a
process for complete sterilization by alternate heating and cooling known as
Tyndallization. Hefoundthat insomecasesevenboilingtheinfusionfor morethan
5 hours was not sufficient to sterilize it and concluded that bacteria have both
thermo stableandthermo labilephases.
These thermo stable resting bodies were also observed by Ferdinand Cohn in hay
bacteriaandwerecalledendospores.
Historical Developments of Microbiology
Beneficial from Biogenesis theory
Careful investigation of the problem by Pasteur led to conclude that alcoholic
fermentation was replaced by another type of fermentation which converted sugar to
lactic acid. It was his abilityto applyandrelatediscoveries to practical world that made
hiscontributionsverysignificant.
Theimportant contributionsmadebyPasteur aresummarizedas;
a) Fermentation is a biological process and is brought about by development and
activitiesof microorganisms.
b) A typical fermentation can bedefined by its principal end product, e.g. lactic, alcoholic
andacetic acidfermentation.
c) Fermentationis aspecific process meaningtherebyeveryfermentationis accompanied
by development of a specific type of microorganism which shows physiological
specificitywith respect to fermentation e.g., alcoholic fermentation by yeast and lactic
acidfermentationbylactic acidbacteria.
Historical Developments of Microbiology
Beneficial from Biogenesis theory
Pasteur also discovered the process known as pasteurization after his name for
preservation of wine by sudden heating to 60-70
0
C for few minutes and then
coolingto destroytheharmful organisms.Thisnot onlysavedthewineindustrybut
the process was also applied later to preserve milk and other liquid foods. Today
pasteurization is widely used in fermentation industries, but we are more familiar
withit inthedairyindustry.
The experiments by Pasteur and Tyndall finally disapproved the theory of
spontaneousgenerationandpromotedthegeneral acceptanceof theory
of biogenesis.
Historical Developments of Microbiology
Germ theory of Disease
EvenbeforePasteur provedbyexperimentsthepossibilityof microorganismsasagents
of disease, several careful observers had made strong arguments for the germ
theoryof disease.
A little earlier to this, John Bassi in1836 and M.J. Berkeley in 1845 had shown that
silkwormdiseaseandthegreat Potato Blight of Irelandwascausedbyfungus.
Few years later, J.L. Schonlein showed that certain skin diseases in humans are caused
byfungal infections.
Pasteur describedthat microbes werekillingthesilkworms andeliminatingtheworms
will wipe out the disease. He also demonstrated that by weakening the disease
germs in lab and then infecting the weakend germs into animal or person, the
animal developedimmunityagainst that disease.
In Germany, Robert Koch (1843-1910) confirmed Pasteur's germtheory and took it
several stepsfurther.Hisinvestigationsbeganwithastudyof Bacillusanthracis,which
causes a disease in cattle. At first he cultured the anthrax bacillus and later in
trackingand culturingthe organismresponsible for tuberculosis and cholera. Koch
remembered for his formulation of four (4) basic principles or postulates of
bacteriologyknownasKochspostulates.
1. Microorganism must be present
in every case of the disease.
2. Microorganism must be isolated
from the diseased host and
grown in pure culture.
3. The specific disease must be
reproduced when a pure culture
of microorganism is injected
into healthy susceptible host.
4. Microorganism must be
recovered once again from
experimentally inoculated host.
Kochs postulates
Historical Developments in Microbiology
Microbiology in the Twentieth Century
In the 20
th
century, studies on microorganisms have contributed towards development of
other disciplines suchasindustrial microbiology,biochemistryandmolecular geneticsetc.
The discovery of cell free alcoholic fermentation by H. Buchner in 1897 laid down the
foundationfor thebeginningof Biochemistry.
The discovery that vitamins used by animals are similar to growth factors required by
bacteria led to the finding that there is similarity of metabolismin all living systems and
hence microorganisms were used as models to understand basic fundamental metabolic
processes. Escherichia coli has been extensively used in this category to understand
biochemistryandgeneticsof variouscellular processes.
studied the consequences of permanent genetic changes in biochemical terms (mutants of
breadmoldNeurospora).
Historical Developments in Microbiology
Historical Developments in Microbiology
Microbiology in the Twentieth Century
Oswald Avery, Colin Macleod and Maclyn Mc Carty proved that DNA is the basic genetic
material and amodel was proposed for the molecular structure of DNA by James Watson
andFrancisCrick in1953.
Collapse of the boundaries between the subjects such as Microbiology, Genetics, and
Biochemistry has lead to deeper understanding of biology at molecular levels under new
discipline called Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering. The application of Molecular
biology has revolutionized the use of genetically engineered microorganisms for
technological purposes. Now microorganisms are being used to produce non-microbial
products at commercial scale for the welfare of human beings. Production of injectable
insulin by genetically engineered E. coli has opened the possibilities for search and
development of other suitable organisms for production of useful products on industrial
scale. Theexploitation of microorganisms, their systems or their processes for technological
purposesis studiedunder Microbial biotechnologyor industrial microbiology.
Historical Developments in Microbiology
Rise of Medical Microbiology
The work on Anthrax and rabies started the golden age of medical bacteriology. The
Pasteur Institute in Paris and Institute in Berlin became the world centers of
science of Bacteriology. Robert Koch developed methods for isolation of pure
cultures of bacteria and concentrated his work more on isolation, cultivation and
characterizationof diseasecausingagentsof major diseases inman.
Ontheother hand, Pasteur focusedhis attentiononseekingexperimental evidenceof
how infectious diseases occur in human body and how recovery and immunity
occurs. This was a great medical revolution and within 25 years, methods for
prevention by immunization or hygienic methods were developed against most of
themajor bacteriacausinghumandiseases.
Historical Developments in Microbiology
Development of pure culture methods
Around1870it wasrealizedthat pureculturesmust beusedfor proper understanding
of formandfunctionof microorganisms.
A pure culture of an organismis the culture which contains large population of only
onetypeof microorganismgenerallydevelopedfromasinglecell.
Brefeld introduced the practice of single cell isolation and cultivation of fungi on
solidmediumcontaininggelatinassolidifyingagent.
Joseph Lister developed serial dilution technique for pure culture isolation. He
devised a small syringe prototype of the modern micropipettes to dispense small
aliquots of liquid in different tubes containingmilk so that final dilution contained
one or none of the organism and isolated pure culture of bacteria which was
confirmedbymicroscopic examination.
Historical Developments in Microbiology
Development of pure culture methods
Robert Koch was experimentingwith solid mediaand used sterile cut surfaces of
potato placed on sterile covered plates to grow bacteria. Since the surface was
opaqueit wasdifficult to examineculturesof bacteria.
Richard.J.Petri introducedPetri dishasasuitablemediumcontainer for theculture
of bacteria. Pour plate and streak methods for the isolation of pure cultures were
also developed by Koch. The use of gelatin as solidifying agent (protein which is
susceptibleto microbial digestion) andchanges fromgel to liquidat 28
0
C whilethe
optimumtemperaturefor growthof widerangeof bacteriaisbetween30 37
0
C.
FranHesseintroducedagar - acomplex polysaccharideextractedfromredalgaeas
thesolidifyingagent, whichwas foundto beasuitablesolidifyingagent becauseof it
is not digested by bacteria easily and its melting point is 100
0
C and remains
solidified below 44
0
C, besides producing a transparent stiff gel and growth of
bacterial/fungal coloniescanbeseeneasilyontheir surface.
Importance of Microorganisms
Microorganisms play an important role in sustaining life on this planet and in our daily life
throughthefollowingactivities:
Symbiosis:Microorganisms liveinsideother cells andarehelpful to thecells inwhichtheylive.
Relationships between microorganisms and larger organisms. Some useful bacteria are
knownassymbionts.
More generally, it turns out that inside of most cells of most plants there are little
microorganisms, bacteria actually, which supply the energy gathered fromsunlight to plant.
Even our own cells for the most part cannot use the energy in the food you eat until
bacteriumfoundinour owncellsconvert that foodto ausableform.
Transformation of matter: Microorganisms degrade dead organic matter and return to the
atmosphere in inorganic form. They complete the cycle of matter and are responsible for
transformationof C,N andSandother important elementswhichareessential for life.
Biological nitrogenfixation:They fix nitrogen fromatmosphere and make it available to the
plants in usable form. Important microorganisms under this category include, Rhizobium,
Azotobacter,Azospirillumetc.
Importance of Microorganisms
Cellulose degradation in Rumen: Ruminants feed on straw and grass which contains about
50%cellulose.Thereis symbiotic associationof microorganismswithrumenfor degradation
of cellulose and about 10
10
10
11
cells/ml of different bacteria are usually present in the
rumen.Most important of theseincludeRuminococcusandClostridium.
Biogas:Animal waste products and cellulose containingwaste is fermented by microorganisms
(Methanogen) andmethanegassoformedisusedasafuel.
Composting:Decomposition of organic matter by microorganisms to convert it into nutrient
rich manureis known as composting. Bacillus, AspergillusandThermoactinomyces areimportant
inthisprocess.
Mycorrhiza:Association of roots of manyplants with fungi forms acompositestructure called
mycorrhiza. Fungus helps in absorption of mineral salts fromsoil and plant in turn provides
carbohydratesfor thegrowthof fungus.
Recent Applications of Microorganism (Bacteria)
Biosensors
Technically a Biosensor is a miniaturized analytical tool comprising of highly specific
biological sensingelement or transducer which convert physiochemical interaction
into adiscreteor continuousdigital electronic signals.
Biosensors usingcomponents from
bacteria to detect toxic pollutants
and continuous monitoring of
nutrients/other parameters.
Bacterial sensor requires both a
receptor which is activated in the
presence of pollutant and areporter
whichwill makethischangeapparent.
Recent Applications of Microorganism (Bacteria)
They find application in medical, environment field and in food industries for
measurement of specific parameters. Theseare
1. Clinical diagnosisandbiomedical monitoring
2. Agricultural,horticultural,veterinaryanalysis
3. Detectionof pollution,andmicrobial contaminationof water
4. Fermentationanalysisandcontrol
5. Monitoringof industrial gasesandliquids
6. The detection of toxic pollutants in soil, water and is important for the
protectionof humanandanimals.
7. Direct biological measurement of flavors,essences,andpheromones
Xanthomonas- to monitor progressionof infectioninplants.
Bradyrhizobium- to monitor root noduleformationanddevelopment.
Lactococcus- to detect thepresenceof antibioticsinmilk.
Photobacterium- to detect toxicpollutants.
E.coli- to detect thepresenceof mercuryinsoil samples.
Recent Applications of Bacteria
Bioremediation
The concept of using microorganisms to remove pollutants is known as
bioremediation.
We can use either indigenous microorganisms or genetically engineered
microorganisms. Pseudomonas and Bacillus are two most important and most
commonlyused bacteriafor bioremedical purposes. These bacteriacan either turn
pollutants into energy source that they consume or alternately they produce
enzymesthat break downthesepollutantsinto lessharmful molecular products.
Studies are being carried out to develop efficient microbial inoculants for
bioremediation of effluents from distillery, tanneries, textile and food processing
industriesetc.
A Subsurface Engineered Bioremediation System
Scope of Microbiology
Depending on their applications in different fields, the major areas of applied
microbiologyare:
Agricultural Microbiology/ soil Microbiology:
Microorganisms related to soil fertility, plant diseases, transformation of matter,
biological nitrogenfixationsetc.arestudied.
FoodMicrobiology:
Microorganisms important with respect to food fermentations, food spoilage, food
poisoningandfoodpreservationarestudiedinthisarea.
Medical Microbiology:
Microorganisms are casual agents of several diseases of plants, animals and human
beings. Medical Microbiologydeals with-
Studiesoncausativeagentsof disease
Diagnostic procedures&identificationof diseasecausingorganisms
Development of effectivevaccines andpreventivemeasuresetc.
Scope of Microbiology
Molecular Biology:
Istheprogramof interpretingthespecific structureandfunctionof organismsinterms
of their molecular structures, reproduction, chemical reactions. Microorganisms
havebeenusedasatool to explorefundamental lifeprocesses.
Genetic engineeringandBiotechnology:
This is an important development in applied Molecular Biology which refers to the
human capability to alter the genetic make up of an organism. It has been possible
becauseof thedetailedknowledgeof structureandfunctionof DNA anddiscovery
of the restriction enzymes which can cleave or cut the DNA at specific sites along
the chain length. Use of genetically engineered microorganisms has opened great
potential for productionof drugs,vaccines, improvement of agricultural crops.
Scope of Microbiology
Industrial microbiology:
Different microorganisms are used for the production of wide range of
productsat industrial scaleaslongastherehasbeenhistory.
Microorganismsareusedto:
Ferment useful chemicals(ethanol,acetone,etc.)
Produce certain food stuffs (wine, cheese, yogurt, bread, half sour
pickles,etc.)
Produce of recombinant products (recombinant insulin, human growth
hormone,etc.)
Destroywastes(sewage,oil spills,bioremediation)
Geochemical Microbiology:
Prospects for deposits of coal, mineral and gas, recoveryof minerals fromlow
gradeores,andgasformationandexplorationarestudiedinthisarea.
Scope of Microbiology
Environmental Microbiology:
Deals with use of microorganisms to protect the environment fromthe toxic pollutants and
microbial load and develop suitable methods for treatment of these wastes and their
recycleduse.
Microbesareabsolutelynecessaryfor suchbasic thingsas:
makingnutrientsavailablefromnon-livingsources
providingenergyto ecosystems
freeingupnutrientsfromno longer livingsources
Technical termsfor microorganismsareanddoenvironmentallyincludes:
microbesareproducers
microbesarenitrogenfixers
microbesaredecomposers
microbesaresymbiontsandendosymbionts
Without microorganismswewould:
haveno oxygento breath
nothingto eat
not beableto utilizetheenergyinfoodevenif wecouldeat it
Antibiotics : Antibiotic refers to a natural or synthetic substance that destroys microorganisms or inhibits their growth. Antibiotics
are employed extensively to treat infectious diseases in humans, animals, and plants.
In fact, the terminology antibiotic etymologically evidently signifies anything against life. Obviously, in the event when the
microorganisms are critically present in a natural medium two situations may arise invariably viz., (a) favouringthe growth of
bacteria usually termed as symbiosis ;* and (b) antagonizing the growth of bacteria normally called as antibiosis.
** Charles Robert Darwin (18091882), a British naturalist) aptly commenced scientific and methodical investigative explorations
into the fundamental problems of natural selection and struggle amongsthe interspecies ; and later on came up with his
famous doctrine Survival of the fittest. Louis Pasteur (18221895) observed for the first time the characteristic antagonistic
interrelations prevailing between the microorganisms of different species. Joubert and Pasteur first observed the critical
destruction of cultures of Bacillus anthracisby means of certain air-borne microbes. A follow up by Sirotinin(1888) emphatically
proved the antagonistic action of Bacillus anthracisupon the enteric fever, and Blagoveshchensky(1890) carefully ascertained
the antagonistic effect of the blue-pus organism on the Bacillus anthracis. It was ultimately the miraculous discovery of
Lashchenkov(1909) and Alexander Fleming (1922) who meticulously isolated the enzyme lysozyme***, that was chiefly
capable of inhibiting a relatively larger segment of microorganisms. Chain, Florey, and co-workers (1929) made the epoch
making historical development in the emerging field of antibiotics with the remarkable discovery of wonderful therapeutic
and interesting pharmacological properties of the extracts obtained from the cultures of the mold Penicillium notatumthat
eventually gave rise to the formation of the wonder drug penicillin.
Specifically the antibiotics are extremely useful in the control, management and treatment of a good number of human infectious
diseases but their diversified applications are found to be equally useful in the meticulous curing and controlling of plant and
animal diseases as well. Penicillin has been effectively employed in the management and control of pests. Antibiotics, in general,
are invariably employed in animal husbandry as feed additive to cause enhancement in the fattening of food animals. Food
handling and processing industries extensively make use of antibiotics to critically minimiseinevitable spoilage of fish,
vegetables, and poultry products. Present day modern scientific researches being conducted across the globe do make use of
antibiotics as useful and indispensable tools for the elaborated study of biochemical cellular mechanisms.
Since the discovery of penicillin many more antibiotics came into being as stated under :
Waksman (1944) : Streptomycin[Streptomycesgriseus] a soil microbe ;
(1945) : Bacitracin [Bacillus subtilis] ;
(1947) : Chloramphenicol (Chloromycetin) [Streptomyces venezuelae] ;
(1947) : Polymixin[Bacillus polymixa] and various designated polymixins
A, B, C, D, and E.
(1948) : Chlorotetracycline[Streptomyces aureofaciens] a broad-spectrum
antibiotic.
(1948) : Neomycin [a species of Streptomyces] isolated from soil.
Antibiotics Class Designated Antibiotics
Aminoglycosides Gentamycin,Kanamycin,Neomycin,StreptomycinandTobramycin
Ansamycins MaytansineandRifampicin
Beta - lactam Amoxicillin, Ampicillin, Cephalosporin,CloxacillinandPenicillin
Cyclic polypeptides Polymixins(A,B,C,D andE)
Fluoroquinolones CiprofloxacinandOfloxacin.
Macrolides Azithromycin, Bacitracin,Clarithromycin,andErythromycin
Polyenes AmphotericinB,GriseofulvinandNystatin
Tetracyclines Doxycycline,OxytetracyclineandTetracycline
Miscellaneous Chloramphenicol,ClindamycinandCycloserine
The various important points with respect to the development of antibiotics are summarized
below:
In all approximately 5000 antibiotics have been prepared, characterized, and evaluated
for their therapeuticefficacytill date.
Nearly 1000 antibiotics belongingto only six genera of filamentous fungi i.e. Including
CephelosporiumandPenicilliumhavebeenreportedsuccessfully.
About 50 antibiotics havebeen synthesized fromtwo generaandbelongingto the class
of non-filamentousbacteria.
Nearly 3000 antibiotics have been prepared froma group of filamentous bacteria i.e.
IncludingStreptomyces.
Approximately 50 antibiotics are at present actively used in therapeutic treatment and
veterinarymedicinearoundtheworld.
The Future of Microbiology
Microbiologyhashadaprofoundinfluenceonsociety. Sciencewriter BernardDixonis
veryoptimisticabout microbiologysfuturefor two reasons.
First,microbiologyhasaclearer missionthando manyother scientific disciplines.
Second,it isconfident of itsvaluebecauseof itspractical significance.
Thefollowingbrief list shouldgivesomeideaof what thefuturemayhold:
1. New infectious diseases are continually arising and old diseases are once again
becomingwidespread and destructive. AIDS, hemorrhagic fevers, and tuberculosis
are excellent examples of newand reemerginginfectious diseases. Microbiologists
will haveto respondto thesethreats,manyof thempresentlyunknown.
2. Research is needed on the association between infectious agents and chronic
diseases such as autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases. It may be that some of
thesechronicafflictionspartlyresult frominfections.
The Future of Microbiology
3. Microbiologists must find ways to stop the spread of established infectious diseases.
Increases in antibiotic resistance will be a continuing problemin current medical
treatment. Microbiologists have to create new drugs and find ways to slow or
prevent the spread of drug resistance. New vaccines must be developed in
molecular biology and recombinant DNA technology to protect against diseases
suchasAIDS.
4.We already understand how pathogens interact with host cells and which diseases
arise.Therealso ismuchto learnabout howthehost resistspathogeninvasions.
5. Further research on unusual microorganisms and microbial ecology will lead to a
better understanding of the interactions between microorganisms and the
inanimate world. Greater knowledge of symbiotic relationships can help improve
our appreciation of the livingworld. It also will lead to improvements in the health
of plants,livestock, andhumans.
The Future of Microbiology
6. Microorganisms are increasingly important in industry and environmental control,
and we must learn how to use them in a variety of new ways. For example,
microorganisms can - serve as sources of high-quality food , enzymes for industrial
applications, degrade pollutants and toxic wastes, protect food and crops from
microbial damage.
7. Microbial diversity is another arearequiringconsiderable research. Less than 1%of
the earths microbial population has been cultured. We must develop newisolation
techniques and an adequate classification of microorganisms, which cannot
cultivatedinthelaboratory. Thediscoveryof newmicroorganisms maywell leadto
further advances inindustrial processesandenhancedenvironmental control.
8. Microorganisms are excellent subjects for the study of a variety of fundamental
questions in biology. For example, howdo complex cellular structures develop and
howdo cellscommunicatewithoneanother andrespondto theenvironment?
The Future of Microbiology
9.Manymoregenomessequencedof microorganismswill bedeterminedinthecoming
years for learning how the genome is related to cell structure and what the
minimumassortment of genes necessary for life is? Analysis of genome continuing
advances in the field of bioinformatics and the use of computers to investigate
biological problems.
10. Finally, microbiologists will bechallengedto carefullyassess theimplications of new
discoveries and technological developments. They will need to communicate a
balanced view of both the positive and negative long-termimpacts of these events
onsociety.
SuggestedReading SuggestedReading
1. Pelczar, M.J, Chan, E.C.S & N. R. Krieg. Microbiology- Concepts and
Applications(International Edition),McGraw- Hill Inc.
2. Stanier, R.Y., Ingraham, J.L., Wheelis, M.L. & P.R.Painter. General
Microbiology.FifthEdition,MacMillan.
3. Prescott, L. M, Harley, J.P & D.A. Klein. Microbiology. Third Edition,
WCBPublishers.
4. Wikipedia.