ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY: Introduction, Definition and Importance

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Microbes, those tiny, impossible-to-see beings that we know surround our environment but we hardly know anything about them. Animals? Plants? Minerals? Most people do not know exactly what they are despite being of great importance in our lives.

From Ecologist Verde we want you to know the branch of microbiology that studies the microbes in the environment and the importance it has for human life. So if you want to know more about this, keep reading this article about mEnvironmental microbiology, its definition and importance.

Introduction to Environmental Microbiology

First of all, to understand what environmental microbiology means, we must first understand what environmental microbiology means and what it encompasses. microbiology science.

Microbiology is the study of microorganisms or microbes, or what is the same, living beings invisible to the human eye, through the use of the microscope. Etymologically speaking, the word "microbiology" derives from three words of Greek origin: "mikros" (small), "bios" (life) and "logos" (science). Thus, the three words together constitute the scientific study of the microscopic life.

These tiny beings analyzed by microscopists can be prokaryotes or eukaryotes, with a great diversity of types: bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa and microscopic algae.

In this other Green Ecologist article we explain in more detail what microorganisms are, their types and characteristics.

Definition of environmental microbiology

There are a great variety of sub-branches within the field of microbiology, such as the environmental microbiology. The definition of environmental microbiology is understood as the study and analysis of the diversity and function of microorganisms in their natural and even artificial environments.

In addition, the main objective of science focuses on the microbial ecology analysis, or what is the same, the existing relationships between the environment, water, air and soil, and the microorganisms that inhabit it, either as pollutants or for use as an environmental decontaminant.

In turn, within environmental microbiology, we also find microbial ecology, microbial diversity, geomicrobiology and bioremediation, rhizoremediation and molecular biology of pseudomonas.

Microbial ecology

Microbial ecology is the branch of ecology that observes and analyzes microbes in their natural environment. These microorganisms maintain a continuous activity and relationship with the environment essential for life on planet Earth.

Microbial diversity

Microbial diversity is understood as the knowledge of the enormous variety of microorganisms found in natural ecosystems. Despite being the most abundant organisms on the planet, the study of the diversity of microbes that exist in the world is relatively new knowledge for humanity and with a lot of room to study and discover yet. In fact, only 1% of the microbes that exist in the biosphere have been recognized by the microbiologists to the present day.


Geomicrobiology is the science that studies the relationships between geochemical and geological processes and microorganisms. Thus, science encompasses the study of all microbial interactions that occur in the masses of water and sediments of the Earth's crust.

Bioremediation, rhizoremediation and molecular biology of pseudomonas

These terms refer to the processes that serve to return a contaminated environment to its natural condition through the use of microorganisms, plants, fungi or enzymes derived from these. Microorganisms attack polluting substances that may be in the soil or water in order to eliminate or neutralize them to restore the stability of the environment.

Importance of environmental microbiology

Since its discovery and birth as a science more than 300 years ago, the study of microbiology has grown enormously in recent times. However, there is still a lot of field to know and new lines of research continually appear.

Microbiology, and more specifically, Environmental microbiology has great importance in our lives. Microorganisms are present in the environment in which we live, both in their beneficial and harmful sense. Thus, some of the key points about the importance of environmental microbiology are:

  • The microorganisms collaborate in the recycling, decomposition and mineralization of all organic matter in the rotting process. In addition, microbes benefit life on Earth in many other ways. For example, mycorrhizae are a type of microorganism that favor the defense and growth of plants.
  • The pathogenic microorganisms present in water can make this essential good for human survival harmful, in the same way as if these organisms are found in the air.
  • We can say then that environmental microorganisms, have a polluting or environmental decontamination function, are present in all environments; and that environmental microbiology encompasses a great diversity of fields that are of utmost importance for the well-being of human life. It deals with studies and problems related to human, animal and plant medicine, agriculture, animal production, soil fertility, industry, etc.
  • One of the most transcendental branches of environmental microbiology for us is focused on the study of microorganisms pathogenic to humans. Thus, this science is interrelated with some categories of medicine such as immunology, pathology and epidemiology, with all the importance that these sciences have for the lives of people and the advancement of society. It is also related to other sub-branches within microbiology, such as bacteriology or the study of bacteria, a science of vital importance for medical and scientific advances.

If you want to read more articles similar to Environmental microbiology: definition and importance, we recommend that you enter our Biology category.

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