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Agricultural Microbiologist

Investigate how soil bacteria impact crops and animals.

What does an Agricultural Microbiologist do?

Everybody knows that exposure to germs can make people sick. But what about your food? As a matter of fact, yes. That’s where the Agricultural Microbiologist comes in. As an Agricultural Microbiologist, it’s your job is to study “plant germs”—microorganisms that live in soil—and their effects on agriculture. That includes the plants and grains that serve as food, as well as the animals that eat that food (both livestock and humans, for instance).

Agricultural Microbiologists work for government agencies, universities, agricultural companies, food safety organizations, and research institutes. However, the work is often very similar. You examine food, feed, and pesticides—and sometimes even cosmetics—by performing various laboratory tests and procedures. That way, you can isolate and identify bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa.

Some of these microscopic organisms are harmful—causing spoilage and illness, as is the case with foodborne pathogens like E. coli. However, others can be very helpful by improving soil’s structure, nutrients, and balance. If you’re an Agricultural Microbiologist, it’s your job to look for evidence of both kinds, performing research that’s designed to both keep food safe and make Farmers more productive.

Simply put: You spend your days digging in the dirt for tiny organisms, then studying their causes and effects for the purpose of preventing the bad and promoting the good.