Microbiology vs. Biochemistry: What's the difference?

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Difference between Microbiology and Biochemistry

Although seemingly similar in scope and focus, microbiology and biochemistry are actually quite different disciplines at the core. There is a significant amount of overlap between the two to be sure, but a closer look at the fields of study that both involve will show that they are each distinct scientific studies in their own rights. Let's take a look at what each of these sciences are all about.



Microbiology is the science that deals with the study of microorganisms. While essentially dealing with the study of these microscopic, unicellular and cell-cluster organisms, microbiology also often deals with the study of the immune system in a specific field of study known as immunology.

Biochemistry is also referred to as biological chemistry, and it deals with the study of chemical processes in living organisms. Since the 1960s, biochemistry has been so effective at explaining life processes that nowadays it informs nearly all life sciences including botany and medicine. Biochemistry today almost mainly focused on determining how biological molecules contribute to the processes that occur in living cells.

Confirmation Of Existence

Microbiology traces its roots to the discovery of microorganisms, which was previously hypothesized for several hundred years. In fact, the existence of microbiological organisms was proposed as early as the 6th century.

Biochemistry for its part stems from the belief that life was not subject to the laws of science in the way that non-life was. It was previously thought that only living beings could produce molecules necessary for life, until Friedrich Wöhler came out with a paper on urea synthesis that effectively provide the possibility of artificial production of organic compounds in 1828.


Microbiology is actually divided into several fields of study, including microbial physiology, microbial genetics, cellular microbiology, and medical microbiology. These sciences involve the study of how microbial cells function in a biochemical process and how genes are organized in microbes. Microbial physiology although deals with the study of microbial growth and metabolism, as well as its cell structure, while microbial genetics draws numerous parallels with molecular biology. Cellular microbiology for its part bridges the gap between microbiology and cell biology, while medical microbiology deals with the study of pathogenic microbes and their role in illness. This latter field also deals with microbial pathogenesis and epidemiology, and draws several parallels to disease pathology and immunology.

Biochemistry for its part mainly utilize techniques specific to biochemistry, although more and more practitioners utilize techniques and theories from the fields of genetics, molecular biology and biophysics as well. In fact, the lines between molecular biology and biochemistry are blurred to the point that they are nearly interchangeable with regard content and procedure.

Similarities and Differences


  • The science that deals with the study of microorganisms
  • Also often deals with the study of the immune system


  • Also referred to as biological chemistry
  • Deals with the study of chemical processes in living organisms


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