Microbiology is the study of microscopic organisms, including single-cell, viruses, and bacteria. As a subset of the biological sciences, microbiology itself can be subdivided into several branches, generally along the lines of pure microbiology or applied microbiology. In many ways, microbiology traces its roots to the groundbreaking work of Anton van Leeuwenhoek, who first discovered bacteria in his microscope during the Age of Reason.
The father of microbiology, however, is often considered to be Louis Pasteur. Pasteur (1822-1895) was the French chemist whose scientific breakthroughs (such as Pasteurization) resulted in the prevention of many diseases. It was Pasteur who discovered that fermentation was the result of bacteria acting through biogenesis, and that such microorganisms were responsible for spoiling various beverages.
Pure microbiology includes such fields as bacteriology (the study of bacteria), mycology (the study of fungi), immunology, microbial ecology and molecular microbiology. Applied microbiology, which includes medical, pharmaceutical, industrial, agricultural, and veterinary microbiology (among many subsets), is generally concerned with the application of microbes in the environment. Not all microbes are harmful. Some microbes, such as those responsible for fermentation or the production of antibiotics, are directly beneficial to human life.