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A University of Melbourne expert designs and evaluates behaviour change interventions. Now he's in Australia, aiming to improve the population's health here. A University of Melbourne expert says that the age of adolescence has evolved and we need to improve our understanding of the modern problems of teenagers. But a University of Melbourne expert says we need better understanding. It was also the first time industrial-scale biological warfare was employed. The techniques developed on both sides of the war led to some fundamental scientific discoveries such as the anaerobic jar 11, which developed directly out of the study of the effects of mustard gas.

Such stocks supplied on large-scale freed up scientists from having to extract chemicals such as agar in their experiments.

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The next big invention was the electron microscope, arriving in This allowed for greater resolutions, using a more intense light to create an image of a microorganism, to see even tinier details They came about because physicists realized it was not possible to view organisms smaller than half a micrometer; that proved problematic for most of the microscope's history until that point.

Another slightly related invention would also find a use in television - the cathode ray tube or CRT - made it possible to go even deeper. The s is also the decade that virus cultivation exploded 10 , leading to an exponential increase in our understanding of viruses which trickled down through the s and s to new vaccines that reduced or eradicated diseases that had killed so many people for centuries.

This is the era that also saw the first antibiotics. But arguably, the discovery of the century was that of DNA - the building blocks of all life demonstrating how all lifeforms are related to each other. We cannot underestimate its importance and we are now only beginning to break through barriers that conventional medicine could previously not break down.

With its implications for medicine still being realized, this could prove the most important single development in all branches of microbiology. It hardly seems likely that one of the youngest fields within the science of biology, which got off to a slow start and whose major discoveries and applications came long after the birth of modern science, could permeate our lives so much today. It's used in cosmology as we attempt to understand the biological and chemical processes of our universe, in food science to ensure what we eat is safe and in researching anthropological and archaeological applications of industrial microbiology such as fermentation.

With the opening up of genetics and gene sequencing, we are getting closer to understanding the building blocks of life through the microscope, and not forgetting the positive as well as the negative impact that microbes have on our planet and our lives Each new scientific discovery in any field demonstrates a potential to divide that into separate disciplines and then into subdisciplines as researchers delve deeper into those niche areas.

The following is a list of current subdisciplines that exist within microbiology. This is the subdiscipline focused on examining minute organisms that survive in the air Microbes exist in all areas of the Earth's ecology and researchers here examine particles that exist, live, thrive and multiply in the air, or diseases that are transmitted through the air. They are known as bioaerosols and can exist in the lower levels of the atmosphere to the highest, in clouds, and can travel great distances through weather systems.

The major area of study we might consider is airborne diseases, but this is not the only area - organic atmospheric pollutants, the transmission of pollen and spores for plant reproduction, but also on the chemical processes of how substances crystallize and preserve microorganisms. However, it is also of interest to environmental health inspectors and industry to determine leaks of organic matter and to control and mitigate it. Ever since humanity first began to cultivate crops and livestock for food and other produce, we have sought to understand the physical processes that take place - the effects of genetic modification , the processes of breaking down dead plant material into nutrients, the importance of nutrients for the soil and the chemical and biological processes of algae and other microorganisms in keeping balance in the environment for our agricultural benefit.

Agricultural microbiology is the coming together of the wider discipline of microbiology and applying the practical side of biotechnology. The ultimate task is to understand the complex relationship between microorganisms and the environment of agriculture and its processes - including but not limited to: genetics, plant molecular biology, ecological interactions and evolutionary biology. Some argue that agricultural microbiology could prove the next big step in sustainable agriculture by employing microbes to improve yield, longevity, resilience and ecological balance 19 while reducing the traditionally intensive costs of agriculture.

Also known as exomicrobiology, astromicrobiology looks not at our own planet, but to astronomical bodies The vast areas of space are a surprising source of signs of microbiological life, from asteroids that strike the Earth to fossilized remnants of simple life or chemicals that could have led to life found on other planets. This process has already been synthesized and now the goal is to identify markers elsewhere in the universe and to search for life no matter how simple or complex.

As microbial organic life is the most abundant and the most commonly found in harsh environments, those searching for extraterrestrial life tend to focus their SETI efforts toward life at the micro level, but also on the chemical processes that will lead to liquid water - believed to be necessary for all organic life. Bacteriology is the study of bacteria - some of the earliest forms of life to have ever evolved on the planet and still present today We may approach bacteriology from many angles. The most obvious is that of the medical perspective as some bacteria cause disease , but also from evolutionary microbiology to study how life evolves, from the perspective of industrial application of such useful processes as fermentation to create alcohol, for agriculture such cheese and other dairy products, and the gut flora vital for animal life and humans for digesting food.

In each case, bacteria is the tool that permits these processes.

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Experts in this area may study a wide variety of attributes of bacteria from their genetics to evolution and mutation, their potential medical applications or the diseases they cause or in some cases, how one bacteria may be used to fight another in a medical application. It has been fundamental in the development of vaccines in the earliest times right through to today and continues to deliver knowledge for disease prevention.

Biotechnology can come under many of the subdivisions of the biological sciences Within the division of microbiology, it is the application of using microbiology in technological functions and industrial applications. This typically presents us with modern or future applications such as genetic engineering, but arguably it can also be applied to medical biotechnology and the search for organic solutions to the problems of today, environmental remediation in using microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses to clean up oil spills etc.

However, these future applications are not the only way humans have used microbiology - we have harnessed the natural process of fermentation for millennia - to make bread, cheese and other dairy products, alcohol, and preserving foodstuffs, and as sterilizing agents in simple medical procedures. All of this is biotechnology too.

Today, biology is a complex and interdisciplinary subject broken down into hundreds of disciplines and subdisciplines. Microbiology is one of them; another is cell biology. It's a relatively young discipline, the term was coined in the mids and explains the fusing together of these two subdisciplines to fill gaps in the knowledge and explore areas of mutual overlap.

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Cellular microbiology utilizes microbes in the research of cell biology, and to examine them to explain their pathogenic attributes. However, it is also used to study transmission of biological signals between cells, metabolism, the various cycles and processes of a cell, as well as investigating the biological structure and science of individual cells - rather than simply as a culture. In the future, we expect this area of microbiology to be fundamental in the study of and fight against antibiotic-resistant bugs Environmental microbiology is the study of microbes in various environments - water bodies, the air, the soil, in our homes, and their habits in that environment This is a growing area that is expected to subdivide further in the future as it contains so many smaller fields such as microbial ecology, geomicrobiology and microbial diversity as a form of biodiversity as well as the other subfields in this list such as aeromicrobiology, to understand the relationships between microbes, between microbes and their environment, and their wider ecological impact - both positive and negative.

Here, they study all single and multi-celled organisms that are too small to be seen with the eye including prokaryotes 25 , eukaryotes, bacteria and viruses, as well as archaea. Their role cannot be underestimated, either in terms of their ecological impact nor their metabolisms in devouring organic material and the results that come from them. This area has applications in environmental remediation, for altering an ecology for human habitation - which is expected in future to include terraforming other planets. This small niche area has and will continue to prove vital in the study of evolutionary biology As already discussed, microbes represent the earliest forms of life on our planet.

Understanding how they evolve and the development of DNA, proteins and other simple chemical and biological processes could be the key to unlocking all of life. Specialists in this area could work on a number of subareas Including microbial taxonomy defining microbial life into categories and subcategories, the naming and classification and explain the various evolutionary relationships, mutations, and environmental forcings on such microbes, and microbial systematic which is the study of genetic relationships between the microbes and of diversity.

This area examines many issues related to our food. Our relationship with food microbes is very mixed - some positive creating or transforming foodstuffs and some negative infecting and contaminating while others are just present as a natural byproduct of food processing, such as yogurt inhabiting.

It can cover food production safety issues 27 such as the presence of illness in livestock, bacteria in food handling due to it passing safety levels, the processes and cleanliness of the production facilities, but also examining the natural and artificial biochemical processes that turn food from one state to another. We utilize bacteria safely in the production of dairy produce, alcohol and breadmaking. Some of these have been vital to human civilization's development over thousands of years. However, it will also look at industrial microbiology, using algae and other microorganisms as thickening agents.

This small niche subdiscipline of microbiology examines the issues surrounding heredity - this is possible in the simple single cell organisms. It could help to shed light on some of the issues surrounding the evolution from simple to complex life forms. To understand how and why genetic mutation occurs and its role in shaping a genetic makeup could be key to understanding all life.

This is the branch of medical science that studies the role and function of the immune system in any living organism. The relationship between complex lifeforms and microbes has always been one of symbiosis in terms of the positive relationships and one of battle with those deemed negative.


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Immunology as a branch of microbiology seeks to improve longevity and quality of life through vaccines and other preventive measures, medicines and other aftercare treatment. More recently, researchers have been studying the genetic codes of microbes to understand how we can better combat their causes at the microbial level.

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This is the human application of microbes for commercial or industrial processes, some of which we have already discussed. Typically, it involved the cultivation and processing of microbes to produce many of our most common foods such as fermentation for alcohol production, yeast fermentation to produce bread, the processes that lead to making cheese and other dairy products, but on an industrial scale. Also, this includes the cultivation of bacteria that create yogurt. These are some of the oldest ways in which we harness the power of microbes in the environment. More modern processes involved identifying algae and bacteria useful in water waste treatment.

Also, we are now employing microbiology in medicine and vitamin production to cope with growing demand of a growing population Microbial studies is more concerned with the physical structure and function of a microbe than its processes. Largely, this area is broken down into four general groups.

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These are microbial cytology which is the study of minute details on a microbe; microbial physiology which examines cell functionality; microbial ecology which is the examination of their relationship within their environment; and microbial genetics which is the examination of a microbe's genetic structure. As discussed in an earlier section, humans have used microbiology as a weapon for millennia - fungi, viruses, bacteria, algae, and other toxic microorganisms Initially, this was crude and involving sending raw materials infected with harmful agents against enemies, for example, blankets and clothing that were worn by people who died from plague, cholera or smallpox.

It also involved using catapults to send infected bodies over walls of cities under siege. In more recent times, it concerns the use of biological agents in war and in terrorism, starting with WWI and the use of chemical and biological warfare using botulism, ricin, anthrax and others. This was outlawed internationally in but research continues largely for two reasons - to examine strains of such diseases to determine their effects and to develop vaccines, treatments, or cures, and research and prevention for the purposes of building international evidence for intervention against regimes that use them.

Providing a bridge between biochemistry and microbiology, molecular microbiology studies the molecular causes for why biological entities and their cells act in the way they do It's considered an approach rather than a technique, looking at biological systems functionality and encouraging researchers in other areas of biology to think about the molecular framework of the biological system rather than only at the macro level. As advances in genetics progress, this area is expected to prove vital in our understanding of all biological sciences , not just for microbiology.

This is the study of fungi and their biological processes.

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It was once assumed that the humble fungus was a plant; however, their genetic structure and other biological indicators suggest they are in a class of their own, neither animal nor plant, and - most surprisingly - more closely related to all animals than to any plant. Mycologists examine all things that a botanist might study for plants but for fungi instead such as genetics, reproduction, evolution, taxonomy, habitat, ecology, disease pathology, and so on.

Mycology is useful in a number of areas, most notably in evolutionary biology due to the vital ecological role than they play. He has a hand in every microscope that is produced, literally! Each microscope is made, by hand, with passion. He takes pride in seeing them enjoyed by visitors to public spaces worldwide. When not making videomicroscopes Richard can be seen walking around Paewhenua Island, the island he and Jo call home and is actively involved in the conservation management of the small island community. He loves "messing around in boats" and enjoying the fishing that Doubtless Bay offers.

Since the inception of Micro Imaging, Jo has been wearing multiple hats, managing sales, financial and marketing roles as well as keeping a watchful eye on manufacturing to ensure a steady supply of components are available for our microscopes. When a break is needed she can probably be found tending her large vegetable garden, boating on Doubtless Bay, hiking trails in Northland and around New Zealand or enjoying a good book.