What is Microbiology?

Microbiology studies microscopic living organisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, algae, and protozoa. Even though they cannot be seen with the naked eye, microorganisms are a critical component of our world. The roles of microorganisms are diverse: in human, animal, and plant health, pathogenic microorganisms can cause disease, while beneficial microorganisms live as commensals inside us to aid our wellbeing. Microorganisms are used in the food industry to produce various foods such as yoghurt, bread, and beer and in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries to produce medicines and value-added compounds. Microorganisms are involved in rehabilitating contaminated environments, degradation of organic material, and processes such as wastewater treatment.

Multiple techniques are used in the department, with some overlap in microbiology and biochemistry projects. These include isolating, cultivating and characterising microorganisms, and investigating the interactions between microbes and other organisms, as well as with their natural and artificial environments; characterising and manipulating the DNA, RNA and proteins of an organism; using host cells to produce desired proteins and compounds; analysing the metabolic processes and compounds produced by organisms; and determining the structures of proteins.

What do Microbiologists do?

Microbiologists work in laboratories to research all aspects of microorganisms with diverse goals. A few examples from the department at the UFS include:

  • preventing, diagnosing and treating disease in the health and agriculture industries
  • using microorganisms for desirable processes in the food and biotechnology industries
  • studying microorganisms from diverse habitats to develop methods for remediation of environments harmed by human activities.

Microbiology Lecturers


Elfrieda van den Berg (Marketing Manager)
T: +27 51 401 2531


Dilahlwane Mohono (Faculty Officer)
T: +27 58 718 5284

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