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Introduction To Microorganisms And Pathogens

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What are microorganism?

We refer a microorganism as a living thing that is too small to seen with the naked eye. An Examples of microorganisms include bacteria, archaea, algae, protozoa, and microscopic animals such as the spider mites. We only realized the existence of microorganism in 1665, this was because Anton von Leeuwenhoek invented the microscope. Before that time, it was thought that phenomena such as illness and food spoilage were caused by “spontaneous generation.” Leeuwenhoek discoveries lead to Louis Pasteur to realize that many diseases were caused by microorganisms; and to the practice of pasteurization, which kills microorganisms and makes our food products safe to eat today. Microorganism are one of the oldest form of life on earth and are found virtually everywhere, from boiling hot springs deep in the Earth to the depths of the oceans to the Arctic. It is believed that the biological activity of microorganisms are responsible for producing sufficient amounts of oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere more than two billion years ago in order to support life.

What are pathogens?

Pathogens is microorganism that can cause disease. Pathogens can be viruses, bacteria, protists or fungi, any of these can cause disease. Bacteria are microscopic even the biggest are only 10 micrometres long. Once pathogens find their way into the body they release toxins that make us ill for example cholera, typhoid, food poisoning and gonorrhoea.

Although bacteria are very small viruses are much smaller (they are among the smallest microorganisms). Viruses not only enter your body they also enter into your cells and reproduce inside the cell; they reproduce hundreds and thousands in cell and eventually it causes the host cell to explode. The virus then pass through the airways, blood stream and capillaries, which allows them to spread through populations, for example flu, measles, common cold and more commonly now covid-19.

Out of the thousands of species of fungi a few can cause human diseases, they can cause minor skin conditions too all the way up to life threating diseases. Some common fungal condition are athlete’s foot and ringworms however they are contagious and can pass from person to person through direct contact or less commonly through contact with common surface which make it a communicable disease. There are some opportunistic fungal diseases that can take advantage when the immune system is lowered for other reason such as cancer or aids.

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Protist are single celled organisms. Some protest can contaminate food and cause amoebic dysentery which is an intestinal infection and results in server diarrhoea. Protists pathogens can also be parasitic; they live in or on other organisms and cause harm. Malaria is an example of a protest pathogen that lives in the blood and is transmitted by mosquitoes.

Mode of Transmission

Pathogens can spread in many ways for example by direct contact, by water or by air. Different pathogens are spread by different mechanisms for instance malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes, whereas cholera is waterborne disease, HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids and athlete’s foot is transmitted direct contact. Transmission can be reduced or prevented depending on which disease you trying reduce transmission for depends upon which method you need to engage. Simple hygiene measures can reduce or prevent the spread of many diseases including flu and common cold; make sure you wash your hands properly, keep common surface clean and use a tissue just sneeze into. Hands washed thoroughly with soap have significantly reduced numbers of bacteria, over 350000 people die every year from food poisoning which can be prevented by washing hands and utensils properly with clean water and also cooking food to safe temperature to kill the bacterial pathogens.

Malaria and yellow fever both have mosquitoes as a vector and Lyme disease uses ticks. A vector is organism that has an active role in transmitting pathogens from one host to another. To reduce or prevent infections from vector borne disease the vectors need to be controlled or humans need to protect themselves against the vectors such as wearing mosquito replants and wearing long sleeve clothing. Insecticide and spraying techniques can be used to reduce the population of the vectors however this trickier and more expensive. If a disease is highly contagious such as rabies, people may need to be isolated to prevent the infection spreading to others.

Nucleic acids content

Nucleic acids are biopolymers which are made up of monomers units’ known as nucleotides. Nucleotides are made up of three components: five carbon sugar such as ribose, a phosphate and a nitrogenous base. The five carbon sugars presented in DNA is deoxyribose and the four nitrogenous base are adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine. There are two important functions for nucleic acids which is holding the genetic information and protein synthesis. There are two important types of nucleic acids in our body, DNA and RNA. RNA differs from DNA in that it contains the sugar ribose instead of deoxyribose and the nitrogenous base uracil instead of thymine, furthermore RNA is usually single stranded and does not typically form a helix, because of this it is less stable then DNA and is generally more temporary. While DNA stores the information that is needed to construct a protein, RNA functions in regulating the expression of this information in protein synthesis process.

Not all nucleic acids are involved in information processing in the cell. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is a modified nucleotide that plays a central role in energy processing within the cell. ATP is composed of nitrogenous base adenine, which is bound to the sugar ribose (just like RNA). However three phosphate groups can be added to the molecule. These molecules serve as temporary energy batteries for the cell.

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Introduction To Microorganisms And Pathogens. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 4, 2023, from
“Introduction To Microorganisms And Pathogens.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
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Introduction To Microorganisms And Pathogens [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2023 Feb 4]. Available from:
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