Image from Steve Bowers

Microbiology is the study of microorganisms, their uses, and their effects on bionts or analogous larger life forms. It includes all aspects of the study of natural and artificial microorganisms. The field does not typically cover extremely "small" virtual or alife forms, but some microbiologists do study m-life of microscopic size.

Specialised areas of study include bacteriology, microbial ecology, evolution, physiology, genetics and phylogeny, the medical (beneficial and harmful) effects of natural and artificially created microorganisms; the low tech mass-production via gengineered bacteria of pharmacological and industrial chemicals; xenomicrobiology (study of non-terragen microbes); the study of terragen microbes like viruses (virology), bacteria (bacteriology), molds and yeasts (mycology), protozoa, and algae.

Microbiology can be used in the manufacture of certain types of bionano and crude organobiota, in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases, in terraforming and biospherics, in the treatment and recycling of organic wastes and in the production of foodstuffs.

  • Bacteria  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Generic term for any single-celled, microscopic (usually 0.5 to 5 microns, although can be smaller or larger) prokaryote carbon-based biological organisms.
  • Bacteriology  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Subdividision of microbiology that deals with the study of bacteria and other terragen prokaryote life forms.
  • Blue Lung  - Text by Michael Walton
    A disease caused by an infection of lung tissue by semi-functional nanotech
  • Chromosome - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    In terragen biological life-forms, the individual self-replicating thread-like structures, containing the nucleotide sequence of DNA and along which the genes are located. In prokaryotes, chromosomal DNA is circular, and the entire genome is carried on one chromosome, which is distributed throughout the cell. In Eukaryotic cells the chromosomes are contained within the cellular nucleus, and the genome includes a number of chromosomes whose DNA is associated with different kinds of proteins.
  • Complex Life Cycle - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A life cycle that consists of several distinct stages (e.g., larva and adult) (see also complete metamorphosis).
  • Cyanobacteria  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Terragen prokaryotic organisms, sometimes also called blue-green algae.
  • Deinococcus radiodurans - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Bacterium that evolved naturally on Old Earth, and has since been cultured in biohabitats throughout the galaxy. It is easily geneered to form symbiotic unrelated DNA repair systems used by a wide range of radiation-resistant clades and medical procedures, notably the 'Soft Radnads' of the Radiation Nation.
  • Endolith - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    An organism that lives inside rocks. A type of extremophile. Most endoliths are prokaryotic or mesoscale prekaryotes. They are among the most common naturally-occurring life-forms known.
  • Eukaryote  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Organism in which the genetic material (RNA, DNA or analogue) is separated from the rest of the cell in a nucleus. Usually there are also various organelles, and other substructures. The term is often used to cover non-Terragen organisms of similarly complex structure.
  • Extremophile  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A rather chauvinistic term for any biological organism, whether terragen or xenobiont, natural or tweaked, that requires extreme (non-Earthlike) environments for growth or metabolism.
  • Fungi (Mycophyta) - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Free-living or nutrient absorptive terragen eukaryotes with chitinous cell walls characterized by hyphae (small branched filaments) and propagating through spores. Includes the yeasts, mushrooms, and molds. Over 60,000 baseline terragen species, many more developed since. There are equivalent fungi-like organisms in many garden worlds.
  • Genome  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The total genetic material in the chromosomes or other gene-containing structures of a particular organism, containing the genetic blueprint of the entire organism. Its size is generally given as its total number of base pairs (or equivalent units for non-Terragen life forms).
  • Mitochondria - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Granular, rod-shaped, or filamentous self-replicating organelle in the cytoplasm of terragen eukaryote cell. Mitochondria consist of an outer and inner membrane and function in cell respiration and nutrition. They have their own DNA (mtDNA) and ribosomes and are mostly maternally inherited. Sophisticated bio- and hylo- nano augmentation used by some clades involves supplementing or replacing the mitochondria with specialized "nanosomes" Many carbon-based higher alien life have mitochondria-equivalent bodies in their cells.
  • Nucleus, Cellular - Text by Stephen Inniss
    In Terragen organisms, a membrane-enclosed organelle found in eukaryotic cells that contains most of the cell's genetic material. The term is also used for equivalent structures that have evolved by parallel evolution in non-Terragen life.
  • Organelle - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Membrane-enclosed organ within a living (terragen or xenobiont) or artificially created (bionano) cell.
  • Phytoplankton  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Autotrophic planktonic organisms that are the primary producers within their ecology, usually via photosynthesis. Most often they are of microscopic size.
  • Plankton  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Stephen Inniss
    Organisms that live in in the water column or in a suitable atmosphere and drift or float in that environment, being incapable of swimming against the current or wind. Most garden worlds have planktonic organisms. Where larger or more actively moving organisms are present they depend on plankton for food. Analogues to biological plankton are found in some nanecologies and mechosystems.
  • Plasmid - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Self-replicating circular DNA molecules found in terragen bacteria, distinct from the normal bacterial genome, and not essential for cell survival. Because some plasmids are capable of integrating into the host genome they can be used as a cloning vector for small pieces of DNA (typically 50 to 5000 base pairs) using even the most basic genehacking tools. Widely used in early geneering. A number of artificially constructed plasmids are used as cloning vectors.
  • Plastid - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A cell-body (organelle) found in Terragen plants and algae. In plants, any type of plastid can transform into another, making them popular among some gengineers. Their shape and function differs. For example, proplastids develop into leukoplasts which develop to chloroplasts and/or chromoplasts for photosynthesis. They have their own DNA (ctDNA) and ribosomes due to their origin as symbiotic cyanobacteria.
  • Prekaryote - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A very simple but widely found grade of micro-organism where it has not been supplanted by more advanced forms, the prekaryote developmental level precedes the prokaryote, and includes endoliths and other exotic forms.
  • Prokaryote - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Very simple living cell or organism that contains genetic material (RNA, DNA or analogue) that is not separate from the rest of the cell. The term is also used for non-Terragen organisms of a similar level of complexity. Their cell structure is relatively simple and lacks a nucleus and any but the simplest organelles. Terragen examples include bacteria, archaea, and cyanobacteria. Organisms comparable to Old Earth prokaryotes are widely distributed through the universe, and are far better able to survive extreme conditions than eukaryote-grade life. However, it is very rare (but not unknown) for prokaryote cells to develop into higher life-forms.
  • Protist  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    A blanket term for the very large number of Old Earth eukaryotic phyla that are neither animals, nor green plants, nor fungi.
  • Ribosome - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Cellular organelles composed of specialized ribosomal RNA and protein - the site of protein synthesis. Ribosomes are part of the cells molecular machinery, microscopic factories that synthesize protein. Plastids and mitochondria have their own ribosomes (plasto- and mitoribosomes), and there are ribosome analogues in many xenobiota. Ribosomes were instructional in the development of bionano during the late Information Age. Sophisticated bio- and hylo- nano augmentation used by some clades involves replacing the ribosomes with specialized "nanosomes".
  • Somatic Cell - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Any cell in the body of a biological organism with that is not a gamete, a precursor to gametes, or an undifferentiated stem cell.
  • Spherical Symmetry  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Symmetry such that an organism is similar if divided in half along any plane.
  • Stromatolite  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Colonial aquatic, littoral, or semi-aquatic prokaryote or prokaryotoid, prokaryote-equivalant life form, the most common form of macroscopic life in the galaxy.
  • Xenobacter Mirabilis - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Derived bacterium found on Mykropht III - easily gengineered to form symbiotic upregulated DNA repair systems used by soft radnads in the Radiation Nation and elsewhere.
  • Zooplankton - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Animals that float passively in the water as part of the plankton. Zooplankton feed on other plankton (phytoplankton, bacterioplankton or other zooplankton) and are in turn food for larger aquatic organisms. An important part of the aquatic ecology of any terragen and terragen-type ecosystem.
Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev

Initially published on 08 December 2001.

Additional Information