Microbiology 2011

Course Information

Biology 81.301
Olsen Hall 407
Tuesday-Thursday 8:00-9:15

All course material can be viewed on this course web page and the text web page (see inside text). The web page is dynamic and will change often. Please visit often to keep up to date on course activities. See the update for date of most recent web site update.

Every effort will be made to follow the syllabus. However, it is likely that the schedule will change as the course evolves throughout the semester.

Required Reading:
Microbiology: An Evolving Science, 2th Ed, 2011, by J.L. Slonczewski and J.W. Foster. W.W. Norton & Company. Read the appropriate chapters before class. Take advantage of the publisher's online resources.

Course Objective (See Outcomes Below):
Develop a basic understanding of the principles of microbiology including the structure, growth, nutrition, metabolism, genetics, ecology and diversity of prokaryotes.

Attendance is not required, but you will be responsible for all material given in class. Some course materials may be presented in lecture that are not in the text or on the web site. Unannounced quizzes will be given almost every week that there is not an exam,so attending is crucial.

Three "hour" exams will be given during the semester plus a comprehensive final exam. If you know in advance that you cannot make an exam because of of something scheduled ahead of time (surgery, important doctor appointment, etc), then schedule to take the exam early, not after the fact. Makeups will occur only for legitimate documented reasons.

1. Students must take on-line quizzes using the publisher's website. One quiz of 20 questions will be taken for each chapter covered. Quiz results will be uploaded to the instructors grade book on line and this must occur prior to the first day that the chapter is covered in class. These quizzes will be 0.5 points each of your final grade and are pass fail. Passing is getting 15 out of 20 correct and submitting the quiz on time.
2. Unannounced, short, in class quizzes will be given several times throughout the semester. These will cover material recently presented in class or readings required before class. There are no quiz make-ups, PERIOD! These quizzes wil be graded and they will make up the remainder of ther 15% of the quiz grade.


Hour exams (3)-20% each 60%
Quizzes 15%
Comprehensive Final 25%

Cheating is defined as talking during tests, looking at another's exam or using unauthorized material during a test including cell phones. Cheating will result in a zero for the exam.

Students are expected to achieve competency in the following:


1. Cells, organelles and all major metabolic pathways evolved from early prokaryotes.
2. The immense diversity of micro-environments, along with mutations and horizontal gene transfer, have selected for a huge diversity of micro-organisms.
3. Human impact on the environment influences the evolution of microorganisms (for example, emerging diseases and the selection of antibiotic resistance).
4. The biological concept of species is not readily applicable to microbes, due to their rapidly changing genomes and frequent use of asexual reproduction.
5. The evolutionary relatedness of organisms is best reflected in phylogenetic trees.

Structure and Function

1. Microorganisms have unique cell structures that can act as targets for antibiotics, immunity and phage infection.
2. Bacteria have unique structures (flagella, endospores, and pili) that often convey critical capabilities.
3. The life cycles of viruses (lytic and lysogenic) are different from living cells and determined by their unique genomes and structures.
4. The structure and function of microorganisms have been revealed by the use of microscopy (including bright field, phase contrast, fluorescent, and electron).

Metabolic Pathways

1. Microorganisms exhibit extensive metabolic diversity.
2. The enrichment and growth of a microorganism depends on its metabolic characteristics.
3. The growth of microorganisms can be controlled by physical, chemical, mechanical, and biological methods.
4. Metabolic capabilities determine the interactions of microorganisms among themselves and with their environment.

Information Flow

1. Genetic variations impact microbial functions.
2. Although the central dogma is universal in all cells, bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes are characterized by unique features within the mechanisms of replication, transcription, and translation.
3. Both external and internal cues and/or signals regulate gene expression.
4. The replication of genetic material and cell synthesis in viruses differs from cells and among viruses.


1. Microorganisms are ubiquitous and live in diverse and complex ecosystems.
2. Most bacteria in nature live in biofilm communities.
3. Microorganisms and their environment interact with and modify each other.
4. Interactions between a host and microorganism (cellular or viral) can be neutral, detrimental, or beneficial.
5. Microorganisms, cellular and viral, interact with both human and non-human hosts.

Impact of Microorganisms

1. Life on this planet, as we know it, depends on microorganisms.
2. Microorganisms provide essential models that provide scientists with fundamental knowledge about all other life.
3. Humans continue to utilize and harness microorganisms and their products for our own benefit.
4. The potential for microorganisms to improve life is not yet fully explored due to our current limited understanding of the true diversity of microbial life.

Latest Update: Thursday, September 1, 2011

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Dr. Mark Hines, 414 Olsen Hall
Office hours by appointment
For appointment call 978-934-2876 and leave a message, or send an email (mark_hines@uml.edu)