Why Microbiology is the Most Interesting Subject

I firmly believe that Microbiology is the most exciting subject, blended with many fascinating, funny small creatures invisible to the naked eyes of humans. The world of these tiny organisms is very big, dynamic, most interesting, and sometimes invincible.  

The colony they formed in the cultural media may remind you of the beautiful scenery you have visited. If you start to know these organisms, you will fall in love with these tiny creatures and have an enduring passion for knowing the world of these organisms.  

Microbiology is an exciting subject also because our founding fathers and mother are the cool people ever born on earth. Whatever nasty the microbial specimen: they gave them very cool terms. When they saw voluminous diarrhea produced during Vibrio cholerae infection, they termed it “rice watery stool.”

Fried chicken drumstick in isolated white background
Do you know which organism looks like a ‘drumstick’ in a microscope?

We, microbiologists, are the lovers of foods since ancient times. Before using the Microbiology term, people enjoyed sipping wines (som ras: the product of microbial fermentation). As time went on, different branches of  Microbiology evolved.  

In this blog post, I am writing some exciting food terminologies used to describe microbial pathogens/ specimens.  

Unique Shape of Microorganisms

Drumstick shaped

Certain species of Clostridium that bears terminal spore appear as drumstick shaped under the microscope. Clostridium tetani, a gram-positive obligate anaerobe that is the causative agent of tetanus, bear spores that are spherical , terminal, and twice the diameter of vegetative cells. This gives a drumstick appearance while viewing under a microscope.  

Coffee-bean-shaped cocci

 Neisseria gonorrhoeae (the causative agent of gonorrhea) and Neisseria meningitides (agent of meningitis) look like coffee bean-shaped (two coffee bean kissing each other/ or some says like a kidney) in gram stained smear. They are gram-negative intracellular diplococci.

Grape like cluster

Banana shape

The gametocytes of P. falciparum are crescent-shaped (“banana-shaped”), whereas those of the other plasmodia are spherical. The trophozoites (tachyzoites) of Toxoplasma gondii also have crescent shapes.

Grape like clusters

S. aureus is a gram-positive cocci that appears as grape-like clusters.

Lemon shape

The ovum of Trichuris trichiura is barrel-shaped (“lemon shaped”) with a mucus plug at each end. It is a nematode that causes diarrhea; if the infection is heavy, Trichuris may also cause rectal prolapse in children.

Pear shape

The trophozoite of Giardia lamblia is “pear-shaped” with two nuclei, four pairs of flagella, and a suction disk.

sphagetti and meat ball appearance

Spaghetti and meat ball-like appearance

Tinea versicolor is a relatively common skin infection that causes your skin to have patches of light-colored skin due to damage to melanocytes in your skin.  Malassezia furfur is a funny-sounding fungus that can be diagnosed by its “spaghetti-and-meatball” appearance on a KOH preparation.

Rice watery stool

Voluminous diarrhea is produced during Vibrio cholerae infection.

Funny Name of Microorganisms

Naming microorganisms is a very challenging game. Some of the names of microorganisms are given in honor of those who have discovered this organism. In some cases, the name of a particular organism is derived from the place of its discovery, and in other cases, the name reflects some of the salient features of the organisms such as Staphylococci (grape-like cluster: morphology), Mycobacteria: (containing Mycolic acid: salient feature).

But today, I am talking about those popular names of microorganisms; inferences based only on those names result in a funny answer! I have found students getting confused and writing unrelated properties of these organisms. After seeing the word, they just guess the properties, which may not be correct.  

Histoplasma capsulatum

When asked about Histoplasma in a viva, a student replied: It’s a protozoan and capsulated. But:  As its first name suggest, it is not a protozoan,  It’s a fungus. As its second name suggest, it is not a capsulated organism, it does not bear any capsule.

Haemophilus influenzae

In spite of its name, Haemophilus influenzae does not cause influenza (the “flu”). Flu is caused by influenza viruses.

Acharya Tankeshwar

Hello, thank you for visiting my blog. I am Tankeshwar Acharya. Blogging is my passion. As an asst. professor, I am teaching microbiology and immunology to medical and nursing students at PAHS, Nepal. I have been working as a microbiologist at Patan hospital for more than 10 years.

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