What is microbiology

Things aren't always the way they seem. On the face of it, 'microbiology' should be an easy word to define: the science (logos) of small (micro) life (bios), or to put it another way, the study of living things so small that they cannot be seen with the naked eye. Bacteria neatly fit this definition, but what about fungi and algae? These two groups each contain members that are far from microscopic. On the other hand, certain animals, such as nematode worms, can be microscopic, yet are not considered to be the domain of the microbiologist. Viruses represent another special case; they are most certainly microscopic (indeed, most are submicroscopic), but by most accepted definitions they are not living. Nevertheless, these too fall within the remit of the microbiologist.

In the central section of this book you can read about the thorny issue of microbial classification and gain some understanding of just what is and what is not regarded as a microorganism.

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