Microbiology is the study of organisms that are too small to be seen with the human eye: bacteria, fungi, viruses and protists. These organisms are involved in diverse processes that underpin our ecosystems, cause health and disease, and result in useful products ranging from beer to biofuels.
The Microbiology cluster studies microorganisms, how they affect our lives, our environment and our planet, how we can harness them for our use, and how we can stop them from causing us harm.
We take a One Health approach, where we recognise the interconnectedness of health in humans, animals and the environment. Microbiology is a diverse offering, focusing not just on human pathogens, but taking a broader approach to microbiology to include environmental bioremediation using microbes, healthy gut microbiome in humans, agricultural microbiology and veterinary microbiology.
Microbial effects on human, plant, animal and environmental health
We study how bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses interact with us and with plants and animals in order to determine how they affect our health, for example by living in our gut and helping us digest our food, or by living in the soil and helping plants access nutrients, or by causing infectious diseases.
Microorganisms adapt very rapidly in response to pressures in their environment and are ideal for studying the basics of mutation, selection and diversification. We study how they are currently evolving, for example to become more antibiotic resistant, more pathogenic, or more able to break down toxic substances in the environment.
Antimicrobial drug development
There is an urgent need to develop new and effective antibiotic agents to kill pathogens. We are studying new ways of developing antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal agents that can be used to treat diseases of plants, animals and people.