DEPARTMENT OF MICROBIOLOGY
Microbes are essential for maintaining life on Earth. They comprise more than 50% of the life-forms on our planet, yet only around 1% have been identified and studied. Pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites can attack our bodies and we rely on our immune system to protect us. Thus the relationship between microbes and immune cells is critical for our survival.
Microbes are used in producing foods such as cheese, wine, and beer, as well as many pharmaceutical, chemical and agricultural products. They are important for soil fertility and the decomposition of materials, but can also cause major diseases in humans, animals and plants. The harmful effects of some microorganisms link microbiology with immunology. Immunologists investigate how we can protect humans and animals from infectious diseases by using vaccines, and the role of the immune system in non-infectious diseases such as cancer.