Scope of Pharmaceutical Microbiology

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Chapter: Pharmaceutical Microbiology : Introduction and Scope

In fact, microorganism invariably refers to the minute living body not perceptible to the naked eyes, especially a bacterium or protozoon.

Pharmaceutical Microbiology





Microbiology is the — ‘scientific study of the microorganisms’.


In fact, microorganism invariably refers to the minute living body not perceptible to the naked eyes, especially a bacterium or protozoon.


Importantly, microorganisms may be carried from one host to another as follows :


(a) Animal Sources. Certain organisms are pathogenic for humans as well as animals and may be communicated to humans via direct, indirect, or intermediary animal hosts.


(b) Airborne. Pathogenic microorganisms in the respiratory track may be discharged from the mouth or nose into the air and usually settle on food, dishes or clothing. They may carry infection if they resist drying.


(c) Contact Infections. Direct transmission of bacteria from one host to another viz., sexually transmitted diseases (STD).


(d) Foodborne. Food as well as water may contain pathogenic organisms usually acquired from the handling the food by infected persons or via fecal or insect contamination.


(e) Fomites. Inanimate objects e.g., books, cooking utensils, clothing or linens that can harbor microorganisms and could serve to transport them from one location to another.


(f) Human Carriers. Persons who have recovered from an infectious disease do remain carri-ers of the organism causing the infection and may transfer the organism to another host.


(g) Insects. Insects may be the physical carriers, for instance : housefly (Musca domestica), or act as intermediate hosts, such as : the Anopheles mosquito.


(h) Soilborne. Spore-forming organisms in the soil may enter the body via a cut or wound. Invariably fruits and vegetables, particularly root and tuber crops, need thorough cleansing before being eaten raw.


Microbiology is the specific branch of ‘biology’ that essentially deals with the elaborated inves-tigation of ‘microscopic organisms’ termed as microbes, that are composed of only one cell. These are typically either unicellular or multicellular microscopic organisms that are distributed abundantly both in the living bodies of plants and animals and also in the air, water, soil, and marine kingdom.


Interestingly, each and every microbe essentially bear both specific and special characteristic features that enable it to survive adequately in a wide spectrum of environments, such as : streams, ponds, lakes, rivers, oceans, ice, water-borne pipes, hot-springs, gastro-intestinal tract (GIT), roots of plants, and even in oil wells. In general, the microorganisms are usually characterized by very typical and extremely high degree of adaptability. Microbes are invariably distributed over the entire biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and above all the atmosphere.


One may also define microbiology as — ‘the study of living organisms of microscopic size, that include essentially bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa and the infectious agents at the very borderline of life which are broadly known as viruses.


It is mainly concerned with a variety of vital and important aspects, such as : typical form, inher-ent structure, reproduction, physiological characteristics, metabolic pathways (viz., anabolism, and ca-tabolism), and logical classification. Besides, it includes the study of their :


·        Distribution in nature,


·        Relationship to each other and to other living organisms,


·        Specific effects on humans, plants, and animals, and


·        Reactions to various physical and chemical agents.


The entire domain of microbiology may be judiciously sub-divided into a plethora of diversified, well-recognized, and broadly accepted fields, namely :


Bacteriology : the study of organism (bacteria),


Mycology : the study of fungi,


Phycology : the study of algae,


Protozoology : the study of protozoans, and


Virology : the study of viruses.


Advantages : The advantageous fields of microbiology are essentially the ones enumerated below :


1. Aero-Microbiology — helps in the overall preservation and preparation of food, food-prone diseases, and their ultimate prevention.


2. Beverage Microbiology — making of beer, shandy, wine, and a variety of alcoholic bever-ages e.g., whisky, brandy, rum, gin, vodka. etc.


3. Exomicrobiology — to help in the exploration of life in the outerspace.


4. Food Microbiology — making of cheese, yogurt.


5. Geochemical Microbiology — to help in the study of coal, mineral deposits, and gas forma-tion ; prospecting the deposits of gas and oil, coal, recovery of minerals from low-grade ores.


6. Industrial Microbiology — making of ethanol, acetic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, glucose syrup, high-fructose syrup.


7. Medical Microbiology — helps in the diagnostic protocol for identification of causative agents of various human ailments, and subsequent preventive measures.


8. Pharmaceutical Microbiology — making of life-saving drugs, ‘antibiotics’ e.g., penicillins, ampicillin, chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, tetracyclines, streptomycin.


9. Soil and Agricultural Microbiology — helps in the maintenance of a good farm land by keeping and sustaining a reasonable and regular presence of microbes in it.


10. Waste-Treatment Microbiology — treatment of domestic and industrial effluents or wastes by lowering the BOD*, and COD**.


Disadvantages : The apparently disadvantageous and detrimental manner whereby the microor-ganisms may exhibit their effects are, namely : disease-producing organisms viz., typhus fever caused by Rickettsia prowazekii, malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum ; food-spoilage microbes ; and a host of organisms that essentially deteriorate materials like optical lenses (in microscopes and spectrophotometers), iron-pipes, and wood filings.

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