Faculties and centres
Microbiology is the branch of Biology that focuses on the study of microbes. The goal of this subject is to provide a basic vision of the essential characteristics of microorganisms, with special emphasis on prokaryotic microbes (Bacteria and Archaea) and viruses. Microbiology is taught during the third semester of Biology Degree, after the students have taken the basic subjects needed to the correct understanding of this matter.
Microbes are the most abundant living organisms on Earth and constitute a significant part of its biomass. Through their central role in biogeochemical cycles (some processes such as nitrogen fixation or methanogenesis are exclusively carried out by prokaryotes), microbes have an essential role in the global functioning of the planet and help to the sustainable development of the biosphere. Moreover, they play a very relevant function in human activities, either as human pathogens or protecting humans from infection, and can be used in processes related to economic and environmental interests. Microbes are also important tools for the study of evolution and diversification of living organisms.
The knowledge of Microbiology is a key for the comprehension of life and is an instrumental subject for the basic training of future biologists. Furthermore, Microbiology is especially required for the professional activity within sanitary fields (laboratories for disease diagnoses or food safety, for instance), industrial activities and research areas (spanning from Molecular Microbiology to Microbial Ecology).