Environmental Microbiology is the field of science that examines the relationship between microorganisms and their biotic and abiotic environments. Microorganisms in the environment are diverse in origin and ubiquitous. Environmental Microbiology involves the study of the applied effects of microorganisms on the environment and on human activity, health and welfare.
It was in the 1970s that a new area of Microbiology emerged and developed into the field of Environmental Microbiology. The initial focus was on water quality pathogens in the environment in the context of public health safety. The developing field of environmental microbiology expanded to several other areas of applied research. These include microbial interactions with chemical pollutants in the environment and the use of microorganisms for resource production and resource recovery.
Chemical pollutants in soil and ground water have pronounced effects on human population. The cost of cleanup or remediation of the contaminated sites is too high. The overall objective of this chapter is to define the important microbes involved in environmental microbiology, the nature of the different possible environments in which the microbes are situated, the methodologies used to monitor the microbes and their activities and finally the possible effects of the microbes on human activities.