Microbiologists study microscopic forms of life such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, algae and fungi to increase scientific knowledge and develop medical, veterinary, industrial, environmental and other practical applications.

Microbiologists may perform the following tasks:

  • develop products, such as antibiotics, detergents or cosmetics, that either combat diseases caused by pathogenic microorganisms or harness the positive capabilities of microorganisms
  • test samples from patients, isolating and identifying the microbes that cause illness, examining their susceptibility to antibiotics and giving advice about appropriate treatment
  • prevent and control the spread of harmful microbes in hospitals, the food industry and the general population
  • advise the government about public health policies
  • examine natural products for their ability to inhibit the growth of dangerous microbes and apply their findings to the medical and food industries
  • investigate the potential of microbes to improve human and animal health through nutrition
  • develop and improve fermented drinks and foods, such as beer, wine, cheese and yoghurt
  • research the microbiology of plants and use microbes to control pests, weeds and animal diseases
  • study DNA and the use of bacteria to introduce specially engineered genes into an organism in order to fight disease or to change a specific feature of the organism
  • use their knowledge of microbiology to minimise the environmental impact of production and clean up existing pollution
  • investigate the ways in which microorganisms can be used to improve and enhance products that impact on quality of life, such as food and beverages.