Bacteriology is the study of the uses and applications of bacteria as well as characterizing and identifying them. The study of bacteria is essential to the well being of humans, to help determine which bacteria are necessary for health benefits and which are harmful. The study of bacteria is applicable in both medicine and many other industries.
The History of Bacteriology
The first person to observe bacteria was Anton Van Leeuwenhoek in 1676. He had designed his own single lens microscope and used that to observe bacteria, which he called “animalcules”. In the 1800’s Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch further advanced the field, advocating the germ theory of disease and studying many of the diseases that still plague us today such as tuberculosis.
By the nineteenth century it was well known that bacteria were the root of many diseases but there had not yet been an effective treatment method developed. The first antibiotic was developed in 1910 by Paul Ehrlich who developed a method for killing off the bacteria that causes syphilis. In 1977 another huge step in the study of bacteria was made. Carl Woese discovered that year that Achaea, organisms very similar to bacteria, followed a different evolutionary line than bacteria.
The Significance of Studying Bacteria
The production of many foods uses bacteria in their preparation, including cheese, pickles, vinegar and yogurt to name just a few. This foods are fermented, for which bacteria, often Lactobacillus, is used. Bacteria are also used to help clean up oil spills because they can break up the hydrocarbons in petroleum. Another common use is in pesticides which usually involves the use of a soil dwelling bacteria that is regarded as eco-friendly because it has little to no effect on humans, environments, and animals.
Bacteria are also very useful in studying other scientific fields such as molecular biology, genetics, and biochemistry. Bacterial DNA is easy to manipulate so scientists can create mutations and then study the result. This allows for a lot of experiments and more research that would not be possible without the study of bacteria.
The use of Bacteria in Industry
There are many uses bacteria in many different industry areas. For one thing bacteria can be used to mine gold by attracting miners to areas where gold is concentrated. Another very necessary use of bacteria is cleaning human waste. They are useful in dealing with compost heaps, sewage and even pollution.
The study of bacteria is essential for our everyday lives whether it is combating the diseases that are caused by them or by finding new ways to handle the multitude of waste produced by humans.