Some microbes cause illnesses such as the flu, food poisoning, tuberculosis, and malaria, however, most are harmless and many play essential roles in protecting the environment, food production, agriculture, health, and the industry.
In basic research, microbiologists study a particular microorganism, investigate characteristics such as cell structure and genetics. Their findings can be used outside of the laboratory to solve a wide variety of problems.
Microbiologists play a very important role in health care. In hospitals, microbiologists who work as biomedical and clinical scientists to find out which microbes are responsible for patients’ illnesses.
They examine samples taken from patients. Their tests help doctors make diagnoses and plan treatments. Microbiologists can alert the doctor if a microbe has become resistant to antibiotics.
At the nationwide Health Protection Agency (APS), microbiologists identify microbial infections and study how they spread throughout the country. They can provide your information to help health authorities cope with disease outbreaks.
The APS also conducts food sanitary controls to ensure that food and beverages are not contaminated with diseases such as salmonella. Microbiologists investigate cases of food poisoning, monitor outbreaks to determine their origin, for example in factories, farms or restaurants. They regularly test food, water and milk samples to make sure they do not contain harmful microorganisms.
In the pharmaceutical industry, microbiologists are engaged in disease research. They develop and test vital medical products such as synthetically produced antibodies, vaccines and hormones.
In agriculture, microbiologists investigate the role of microorganisms in the soil. They investigate which microorganisms cause disease in plants and animals, while determining the use of other microorganisms to control pests, diseases, and weeds.
Microbiology is very important to a variety of industries, for example, to analyze production efficiencies and perform quality controls of products, such as antiseptics and types of disinfectant. Another example is the use of microbial enzymes in washing powders, which are capable of removing stains and allowing garments to be washed at lower temperatures.
In the cosmetics and toiletries industries, microbiologists develop and test products, such as acne creams and dandruff shampoos (some fungi cause minor infections like dandruff).
In protecting the environment, some microbiologists use microorganisms to break down industrial waste. Others investigate the microorganisms involved in climate change. For example, as the Earth warms globally, microorganisms in the soil break down plant and animal matter at a faster rate. In turn, more carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, increasing global warming.
Microbiologists also work in collaboration with technicians and engineers to develop alternative sources of energy from urban and industrial waste.
Outside of the laboratory, microbiologists work in a wide range of functions, including education, museums, marketing relationships, journalism, etc.