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Microbiology Logo Microbiology & Immunology
Te Tari Moromoroiti me te Ārai Mate


Microbes are essential for maintaining life on Earth. They comprise more than 50% of the life-forms on our planet, yet only around 1% have been identified and studied.

Infectious microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites can attack our bodies and we rely on our immune system to protect us. Thus the relationship between microbes and immune cells is critical for our survival.

Microbes are used in producing foods such as cheese, wine, and beer, as well as many pharmaceutical, chemical and agricultural products. They are important for soil fertility and the decomposition of materials, but can cause major diseases in humans, animals and plants.

The harmful effects of some microorganisms link microbiology with immunology. Immunologists investigate how we can protect humans and animals from infectious diseases by using vaccines, and the role of the immune system in non-infectious diseases such as cancer.

Why study or work with us?

Microbiology, immunology, and virology are exciting areas of research. As basic biological sciences, they are at the forefront of research into life processes. A Microbiology or Infection and Immunity major at Otago offers a variety of interesting and current topics with many practical applications, and opens up a wide choice of career options.

The Department of Microbiology and Immunology is staffed by many distinguished researchers, five of whom are Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Learn more about the talented people in our department, the courses we offer and the research we are undertaking.