What are the 2 main branches of microbiology?

Microbiology, as one of the advanced branches of biology, is an encompassing discipline that studies all aspects of microorganisms including their behavior, evolution, and biochemistry. This short guide will answer the question “what are the 2 main branches of microbiology” as well as the other subdisciplines under it.

What are the 2 main branches of microbiology?

The two main branches of microbiology are the following:

  • Pure Microbiology
  • Applied Microbiology

Microbiology can be divided into two major branches; pure and applied. These two main divisions emerge from the need to separate the fundamental study of microorganisms and their application to certain processes.

In addition, to these two main branches, microbiology can also be studied in terms of taxonomy such as bacteriology and protozoology for classifying other microorganisms.

What is Microbiology?

 Microbiology is one of the main branches of biology that deals with the study of microscopic organisms both unicellular (eukaryotic) and multicellular (prokaryotic) such as bacteria, fungi, and protists.

Viruses, although lacks certain characteristics of life and are technically not living organisms, contain genetic material that helps them multiply and affect living things, and are included in microbiology.

Microorganisms are first observed during the invention of the first primitive microscopes in the 17th century. One of the very first scientists to publish observations of bacteria was Anton von Leeuwenhoek. 

Anton von Leeuwenhoek viewed bacteria by looking at the water using the primitive microscope and his drawings of it were published in 1684. His illustrations are the very first known drawings of a bacteria. He is also the first to give details of protozoa, amoebae, yeast, and fungi.

Because of microbiology, the long-drawn-out belief that living things came from a spontaneous combination of organic and inorganic ingredients was invalidated in the 19th century.

The disapproving of spontaneous generation was long been argued by scientists even in the early 17th century but was not eliminated until the 19th century when Louis Pasteur showed that microorganisms are the cause of contamination of food and liquids through the use of a swan-necked flask.

Important advancements in the field of microbiology include the development of staining techniques to better visualize microorganisms, as well as experiments on disease-causing microorganisms against our immunity.

The greatest period of scientific advancement was during the 20th century. In microbiology, vaccines, antibiotics, and chemotherapeutic agents used to treat syphilis were developed.

The discovery of the genetic material of the cell, Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), allowed scientists to research and study the genome sequence of various microorganisms. 

In short, microbiology is one of the most important disciplines in biology because it makes biological organisms that are usually too small to be seen by the naked eye studied, understood, and applied to modern processes that greatly helps human to develop different aiding products.

Microbiology is dedicated to understanding how some of the microbes in our environment, though cannot be seen, can cause diseases, can help cure these diseases, and even use them for industrial purposes, etc.

In microbiology, you will learn about all aspects of the microorganisms including their lives, characteristics, environment, and impact on other organisms from bacteria to archaea as well as other parasitic worms.

Microbiology is a wide field of study because it encompasses a number of organisms like algae and fungi although it does not need special tools like a microscope to study them thus falls outside the traditional denomination.

What is Pure Microbiology?

Pure microbiology is one of the main branches of microbiology that is a fundamental and in-depth examination of microbes where there is a deeper investigation and study of the microorganisms.

This branch of microbiology explores the scientific phenomenon that microbes undergo by conducting research in order to better understand them.

Subdisciplines under pure microbiology often study a specific group of microbes with the goal of better understanding them without any particular end or application.

Different subfields of pure microbiology include:

  • Astromicrobiology
  • Cellular microbiology
  • Microbial genetics
  • Microbial physiology
  • Immunology
  • Protozoology
  • Bacteriology
  • Mycology
  • Phycology/algology
  • Virology
  • Nematology
  • Microbial cytology
  • Evolutionary microbiology
  • Generation microbiology
  • Systems microbiology
  • Molecular microbiology
  • Phylogeny
  • Microbial ecology or environmental microbiology
  • Cellular microbiology
  • Parasitology

What is Applied Microbiology?

Unlike Pure Microbiology where the microbes are the sole purpose of the study, applied microbiology utilizes this fundamental knowledge about microbes using certain scientific processes to know about the impact they can have in different fields and industries.

In short, applied microbiology focuses on how various microorganisms can be used to produce products that will benefit humans such as vaccines, medicines, and other pharmaceutical products.

Different Subfields of Applied microbiology include:

  • Medical microbiology
  • Pharmaceutical microbiology
  • Industrial microbiology
  • Microbial biotechnology
  • Agricultural microbiology
  • Plant microbiology
  • Soil microbiology
  • Veterinary microbiology
  • Water microbiology
  • Aero microbiology
  • Biotechnology
  • Food microbiology 

What is the importance of Microbiology?

Microbiology is critical in understanding how these small organisms that live around us can affect other organisms, especially humans.

These microorganisms can cause infectious diseases thus studying them can help us find cures and medications as well as prevention for these diseases.

There are also good microbes that are critical for humans to be able to live properly and are used in scientific processes to produce products like medicine, antibiotics, and many more.

Microbiology is considered one of the most important fields of study as the knowledge we gain from it helps us understand the many microorganisms that live inside and outside our bodies, that outnumbered humans and our own cells. 

What are the classifications of Microorganisms in Microbiology?

Microorganisms can be classified through the following:

The presence of cell

  • Unicellular – single-celled organisms
  • Multicellular – having more than one cell
  • Acellular – the lack of cells; referred to as infectious proteins

The type of cells

  • Eukaryotes – are microorganisms that have complex cells because of the presence of organelles aside from the nucleus and membrane.
  • Prokaryotes – are microorganisms that have simpler cells and are usually composed of membrane and nucleus and lack other organelles.


Because there is so much more that we don’t know about our physical world as well as the organisms around us, it makes microbiology an interesting and fascinating field of study.

One of the most important lessons we learn in microbiology is that these small creatures, that far outnumbered humans, should be regarded for their effect on the environment and organisms for both the good and the bad.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs): what are the 2 main branches of microbiology?

What is the world’s strongest microorganism?

Deinococcus radio trans is a bacteria and is considered the world’s “strongest” microorganism because it can withstand radiation, survive without water, endure exposure to strong acids, and live inside a vacuum.

What are the major classes of microorganisms?

The major classes of microorganisms are the following:

  • Parasites
  • Fungi and yeasts
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Prions

Who is the father of Microbiology?

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek is considered the father of microbiology for his discovery and illustration of bacteria and protists in the year 1674.


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