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Course profile: Microbiology

Microbiology is the study of living organisms of microscopic size, which include bacteria, fungi, virus, protozoa and algae.

delhi Updated: May 29, 2009 13:29 IST
Dr JL Bhat

Microbiology is the study of living organisms of microscopic size, which include bacteria, fungi, virus, protozoa and algae.

Microorganism and their activities are increasingly central to many of the concerns of society. The problems of global environment, the need to recycle natural resources, the discovery of recombinant DNA and the resulting high technology of genetic engineering have placed microbiology in the limelight.

Recombinant DNA technology, commonly referred to as genetic engineering, is one of the principal thrusts of the emerging high technology in biological sciences. Recombinant DNA technologies make it feasible to consider genetically manipulated (engineered) microorganisms for commercial production of new and valuable products for a variety of purposes, for example for medicines, fuel and food.

In industrial microbiology, microorganisms are used to make products such as antibiotics, vaccines, steroid, alcohols, organic solvents, vitamins, amino acids, and enzymes and hormones. Microorganisms leach valuable minerals from low-grade ores. Microbial ecologists are employing microorganisms in bioremediation and resource development, wastewater treatment etc. And microorganisms play a significant role in the production of biofertilizers, biopesticides, biofuels etc.

Public health microbiology is closely related to medical microbiology. Medical microbiologists identify the agent causing infectious diseases and plan measures to eliminate or control it. Public health microbiology tries to control the spread of communicable diseases. Space microbiology is an upcoming and significant application of microbes; wherein the microbes may be taken to space and their survival in the new habitat may predict the feasibility of life there.

The BSc honours course of Delhi University provides specialized knowledge that helps a student to develop concepts, learn techniques and skills. In the first year the students are taught concepts of biochemistry, genetics, biomathematics, statistics and computer application in biology.

In the second year emphasis is on biodiversity of microbes, algae, fungi, bacteriology, virology, physiology, ecology and microbial genetics and molecular biology. In the third year the emphasis is on applied aspects: immunology, industrial microbiology and recombinant DNA technology and biotechnology.

To be eligible for undergraduate studies in microbiology a student should have studied physics, chemistry and biology at school level. The student should also have a good knowledge of mathematics, should have creative and innovative approach and passion for understanding biological processes.

Future prospects
Students can become scientists, technologists, academicians after master’s degree in microbiology and biotechnology.

They can also join pharmaceutical, medical, food and agricultural organizations. Our students are well placed as scientists and faculty members and also hold managerial positions in reputed organizations in India and abroad.

(Dr JL Bhat is the Principal of Swami Shraddhanand College)