Living matter cycles between soil and atmosphere while energy flows in an ecosystem enabling the gaseous and nutrient exchange between microbes. Living organisms that break down the dead and decayed matter and turn that into useful resources and nutrition for plants are called microorganisms or microbes. They can be observed by a microscope and this study is called microbiology.
Research surrounding the character of microbes like evolution, behavior, physiology, and pathology is addressed in microbiology. Understanding microorganisms has helped mankind in medical advancements in drug formulations and the development of vaccines, and other important industries such as the food and beverage sector.
Microbiology is now available in a virtual education format. Students can consider an online microbiology course taught by Dr. Sean Elliot.
Useful and harmful microbes
Microbial action can be both useful and harmful depending on the type of microorganism, time, temperature, and other conditions. Bacteria and fungi help in decomposing the dead matter and turn it into organic manure rich in nutrients for plants. During the process of decomposition inorganic molecules are released into the atmosphere. Animals and humans depend on the plants that grow in the rich organic soil for nutrition. When they die, the cycle of living matter continues thus making it possible to convert dead back as fossil fuels, and other organic compounds that are essentially useful for the sustenance of life on the planet.
Germs are harmful to humans, animals, and plants and cause diseases. They enter inside the body of the living organism and cripple its physiological functions that are required to sustain a healthy being. For instance, bacteria cause diarrhea, pneumonia, cholera, and plague. Chickenpox, cold, flu, and measles are spread by viruses. Fungal attack results in athlete's foot, ringworm, and skin infections. Food is spoiled by the spread of mold, fungus, and bacteria.
Importance of microbiology studies
Microbiologists help in understanding the unseen microbes and help in devising strategies to counter their harmful impact and use them as bio-synthesizers in various fields like fertilizers, hemp textile processing, leather tanneries, and the food industry. Some of the areas where microbiology research has benefitted are:
Pharma innovation in drug development underwent seachange when microbiology was introduced as a significant phase in formulating essential antibiotics, steroids, and vaccines. Antibiotics are produced by microbes as part of their metabolic cycle. This antibiotic substance is extracted in lab conditions and used in making the required drugs that help humans and animals combat infections.
Vaccines help in fighting viral communicable diseases like the recent coronavirus. Polio and smallpox diseases are eradicated from the world through effective vaccination schedules followed by governments around the globe. Microbiology helps in preventing microbial contamination during the storage and handling stages of essential medicines.
The application of microbiology in the biotech industry is prevalent in every phase. Biotechnologists use microbes in processing products for a range of sectors like food, diet supplements, textile manufacturing, paper, disease prevention, alternate fuels, environment monitoring, and waste management. Using microbial action in food processing is an age-old practice, now used at a larger scale in food processing industries.
Microbial biotech aids in genomics and DNA mapping to understand human diseases and conducive conditions that spread contamination. Genetic engineering is used to alter microbes' DNA to produce viable drugs and vaccines.
Study hacks and tips
A science subject with an exhaustive syllabus presses the need for consistent and organized methods of studying. When a student learning microbiology devises a timetable to study microbiology regularly, a bit of syllabus is completed periodically and in time to revise again. Attending classes and taking notes helps students clear their doubts with the course instructor. When taking notes one can highlight or annotate the important points for future reference and review. One can make ready reckoner notes in short points, use mnemonics, and flashcards to memorize the lengthy syllabus easily.
Online course for microbiology
Microbiology is subdivided broadly into two categories - pure and applied microbiology. Based on this classification many microbiology courses serve the purpose of teaching a few main areas as addendum courses that are even used for continuing education purposes. Most of such courses are online, and few of them are available as free courses often designed for self-paced learning. Here is a list of online courses in microbiology that one can pursue from anywhere:
Harvard University offers many certification courses in microbiology that deal with applied science and are useful for anyone preparing for industry-related jobs. Most of these courses are free. A certificate attested by the university can be obtained with payment of a minimum fee by the desirous students. The topics covered under these free online certifications programs are:
Case studies in functional genomics
Introduction to bioconductor
Food fermentation - the art of cooking with microbes
Harvard’s commitment to offering the best concepts in science to learners without discrimination and helping people access the knowledge pool has enabled these microbiology courses to be available as audio tracks online.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a pioneer in virtual education that offers free online microbiology courses. Its course on cell therapy and its applied uses help in understanding stem cell therapy for microbiologists and researchers. Other cell therapies like CAR-T are the new age solutions for therapeutics in tissue culture and the development of lost limbs and organs. The course teaches not just the microbiology aspect but even the engineering and analytical chemistry behind the application of cell therapy.
CDCP Elearning series
Centers for disease control and prevention offers eLearning series in microbiology courses that are comprehensive and can be used as continuing education units. The courses offered are devised by fellow researchers with quantified experience in the given subject. A few topics that are part of the eLearning microbiology series are:
Preparing culture media
Biochemicals and gram-positive and negative ID
Most of these courses are based on pure microbiology and will help in comprehending the basics
Microbiology is exhaustive, however, help is available, and one should not deter from approaching a professor if they don’t understand the subject.