Microbiology

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Microbiology (from Greek μῑκρος, mīkros, "small"; βίος, bios, "life"; and -λογία, -logia) is the study of microorganisms, which are microscopic, unicellular, and cell-cluster organisms.[1] This includes eukaryotes such as fungi and protists, and prokaryotes. Viruses[2] and prions, though not strictly classed as living organisms, are also studied. Microbiology typically includes the study of the immune system, or Immunology. Generally, immune systems interact with pathogenic microbes; these two disciplines often intersect which is why many colleges offer a paired degree such as "Microbiology and Immunology".

Microbiology is a broad term which includes virology, mycology, parasitology, bacteriology and other branches. A microbiologist is a specialist in microbiology and these other topics.

Microbiology is researched actively, and the field is advancing continually. It is estimated only about one percent of all of the microbe species on Earth have been studied.[3] Although microbes were directly observed over three hundred years ago, the field of microbiology can be said to be in its infancy relative to older biological disciplines such as zoology and botany.

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History

Ancient

The existence of microorganisms was hypothesized for many centuries before their actual discovery. The existence of unseen microbiological life was postulated by Jainism which is based on Mahavira’s teachings as early as 6th century BCE.[4]. Paul Dundas notes that Mahavira asserted existence of unseen microbiological creatures living in earth, water, air and fire.[5] Jain scriptures also describe nigodas which are sub-microscopic creatures living in large clusters and having a very short life and are said to pervade each and every part of the universe, even in tissues of plants and flesh of animals.[6] The Roman Marcus Terentius Varro made references to microbes when he warned against locating a homestead in the vicinity of swamps "because there are bred certain minute creatures which cannot be seen by the eyes, which float in the air and enter the body through the mouth and nose and there cause serious diseases."[7][citation needed]

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