BIO-251: Microbiology

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math
Biological Science
Academic Level
Course Subject
Course Number
Course Title
Credit Hours
Instructor Contact Hours Per Semester
122.00 (for 15-week classes)
Student Contact Hours Per Semester
122.00 (for 15-week classes)
Grading Method
ENG-131 eligible; BIO-131 or BIO-134 or BIO 135 or BIO-150 or BIO 152 with a C or better OR a Biology 131 waiver; CHEM-131 or CHEM-141 with a grade of C or better (CHEM-141 recommended for biology majors). Biology 131 waiver information can be accessed through a link in the “Additional Information” section of Biology 131 course listings in the Self-Service Schedule.
Catalog Course Description

Introduces microbes and their activities. Covers a wide range of material in lecture and laboratory exercises, including structure and function of diverse microbes, nutrition, growth, metabolism, microbial genetics, and the role of microbes in disease, immunity, and other selected applied areas. Emphasizes the biology of microbes and their interaction with humans and the environment, and in learning the techniques used to safely work with bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Recommended for students anticipating further study in biological or biomedical sciences. Three hours of lecture and five hours of lab each week.

Goals, Topics, and Objectives

Goal Statement

Students successfully completing this course will gain an appreciation of the many roles of microbes at a level to prepare them for further coursework in microbiology, cell biology, and biotechnology. Students will master the material at a level to allow them to perform basic microbiological techniques independently.

The course topics and objectives are based on the American Society for Microbiology's Undergraduate Microbiology Curriculum Recommendations. These recommendations and details regarding approved laboratory objectives are available from The American Society for Microbiology or at the website

Core Course Topics
  1. Theme 1: Microbial cell biology
    1. Information flow within a cell
    2. Regulation of cellular activities
    3. Cellular structure and function
    4. Growth and division
    5. Cell energy metabolism
  2. Theme 2: Microbial genetics
    1. Inheritance of genetic information
    2. Cause, consequences and uses of mutations
    3. Exchange and acquisition of genetic information
  3. Theme 3: Interactions and impact of microbes and humans
    1. Host defense mechanisms
    2. Microbial pathogenicity mechanisms
    3. Disease transmission
    4. Antibiotics and chemotherapy
    5. Genetic engineering
    6. Biotechnology
  4. Theme 4: Interactions and impact of microbes in the environment
    1. Adaptation and natural selection
    2. Symbiosis
    3. Microbial recycling of resources
    4. Microbes transforming environment
  5. Theme 5: Integrating Themes
    1. Microbial evolution
    2. Microbial diversity
Core Course Learning Objectives (Separated)

A student successfully completing this course will be able to:

  1. Describe the morphology, physiology, and characteristics of diverse types of microbes, and compare these characteristics among the various groups.
  2. Describe how various environmental factors can affect the growth rate of microbes, and analyze data from experiments that investigate this phenomenon.
  3. Explain how genetic information is inherited, exchanged, and acquired and modified by microbes.
  4. Explain the basic principles of gene cloning, and give examples of its application in biotechnology. Discuss some of the ways microbes interact with other organisms and with their environment.
  5. Identify mechanisms of microbial pathogenicity and disease transmission, and give specific examples of them.
  6. Describe and discuss the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases caused by common microbes.
  7. Explain how the various kinds of cells in the immune system respond to challenge by microbes, and use the example of vaccinations to illustrate prevent the spread of disease.
  8. Use the technical vocabulary of microbiology to read and interpret technical literature about microbiology.
  9. Demonstrate a basic proficiency in laboratory skills.
  10. Solve a practical problem in microbiology using the scientific method, and communicate the results in a standard style used by microbiologists.
  11. Explain and practice safe microbiological procedures.
  12. Demonstrate an increased skill level in cognitive processes, analysis skills, and communication skills.
Detailed Learning Objectives (Optional)

Theory Skills

A student successfully completing basic microbiology will be able to:

  1. Compare the cell structures of the various classes of microbes, including Gram negative and Gram positive bacteria, fungi, protozoans, and viruses, at the structural and biochemical levels.
  2. Given a sample or picture, identify the morphology of bacteria, fungi, and viruses and describe them using appropriate terminology.
  3. Compare the metabolic processes of various kinds of microbes and tell how they can be used to identify the organism.
  4. Analyze data from experiments that investigate how varying environmental factors (temperature, pH, osmotic pressure, etc) can affect microbial growth, explain how the effects are mediated, and give examples of how these can be used to inhibit or encourage microbial growth.
  5. Describe the various methods of microbial control, and tell how to use them appropriately to sterilize, disinfect, pasteurize, and otherwise reduce the microbial population.
  6. Explain in detail the roles of nucleic acids and proteins in cell reproduction and metabolism.
  7. Explain the processes involved in transduction, transformation, and conjugation.
  8. Explain the roles of barriers, nonspecific immunity, and specific immunity in preventing infections.
  9. Explain the process by which vaccination gives rise to resistance to diseases.
  10. Give examples of direct transmission and indirect transmission, by fomites, carriers, vehicles, and vectors of diseases, and how the principles involved can be used to protect patients and health care workers from the spread of disease and infection.
  11. Discuss the etiology and control of common diseases, particularly bloodborne pathogens and those that cause wound infections.
  12. Name commonly used antibiotics, explain their modes of action, and give examples of their uses.
  13. Explain, using a diagram, how genes can be cloned and give examples of the use of these techniques in biotechnology.
  14. Define and identify the various symbiotic relationships among microbes and their hosts.
  15. Give examples of the role of microbes in shaping the ecosystems of the Earth and how microbes adapt to their environment.
  16. Explain how overuse of antibiotics can lead to adaptation of microbes by genetic changes, and how this leads to the spread of antibiotic resistance.
  17. Explain common biochemical, genetic, and immunological techniques used to identify pathogens.

Laboratory Skills

A. Laboratory Techniques

A student successfully completing basic microbiology will be able to:

  1. Use a bright field light microscope to view and interpret slides
  2. Properly prepare slides for microbiological examination
  3. Properly use aseptic techniques for the transfer and handling of microbes and instruments
  4. Use appropriate microbiological media and test systems
  5. Estimate the number of microbes in a sample using serial dilution techniques
  6. Use standard microbiology laboratory equipment correctly
  7. Accurately record observations made in the laboratory using proper terminology

B. Laboratory Thinking Skills

A student successfully completing basic microbiology will demonstrate an increased skill level in:

Cognitive processes, including:

  • formulating a clear, answerable question
  • developing a testable hypothesis
  • predicting expected results
  • following an experimental protocol

Analysis skills, including:

  • collecting and organizing data in a systematic fashion
  • presenting data in an appropriate form (graphs, tables, figures, or descriptive paragraphs)
  • assessing the validity of the data (including integrity and significance)
  • drawing appropriate conclusions based on the results

Communication skills, including:

  • discussing and presenting lab results or findings in the laboratory

Interpersonal and citizenship skills, including:

  • working effectively in teams or groups so that the task, results, and analysis are shared
  • effectively managing time and tasks allowing concurrent and/or overlapping tasks to be done simultaneously, by individuals and within a group
  • integrating knowledge and making informed judgments about microbiology in everyday life

Laboratory Safety

A student successfully completing basic microbiology will be able to explain and practice safe microbiological procedures, including:

  1. Reporting all spills and broken glassware to the instructor and receiving instructions for clean up
  2. Methods for aseptic transfer
  3. Minimizing or containing the production of aerosols and describing the hazards associated with aerosols
  4. Washing hands prior to and following laboratories and at any time contamination is suspected
  5. Using universal precautions with blood and other body fluids and following the requirements of the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard
  6. Disinfecting lab benches and equipment prior to and at the conclusion of each lab session, using an appropriate disinfectant and allowing a suitable contact time
  7. Identifying and proper disposing of different types of waste
  8. Reading and signing a laboratory safety agreement indicating that the student has read and understands the safety rules of the laboratory
  9. Good lab practice, including returning materials to proper locations, proper care and handling of equipment, and keeping the bench top clear of extraneous materials
  10. Protective procedures, including
  • Tying long hair back, wearing personal protective equipment (eye protection, coats, gloves, closed shoes; glasses may be preferred to contact lenses), and using such equipment in appropriate situations
  • Always using appropriate pipetting devices and understanding that mouth pipetting is forbidden
  • Never eating or drinking in the laboratory
  • Never applying cosmetics, handling contact lenses, or placing objects (fingers, pencils, etc.) in the mouth or touching the face
  1. Emergency procedures, including
  • Locating and properly using emergency equipment (eye wash stations, first aid kits, fire extinguishers, chemical safety showers, telephones, and emergency numbers)
  • Reporting all injuries immediately to the instructor
  • Following proper steps in the event of an emergency
General Information

We've added information regarding BIO 131 waivers to make the process more equitable for all students.

Assessment and Requirements

Assessment of Academic Achievement

Details of the assessment of student achievement are left to the discretion of the individual instructor. However, a substantial part of the assessment (not to exceed 50%) should be based on evaluation of Laboratory Skills. The assessment of Theory and Laboratory Skills should be based on a variety of measures, including, where feasible, testing, written papers, oral presentations, and practical applications of knowledge or skills.

Where appropriate, instructors are encouraged to use both written and oral assessments, and to use these in both formal and informal settings.

General Course Requirements and Recommendations

Students should complete several writing assignments during the course of the semester. These assignments may be tied to the lecture, the lab, or both, and require some synthesis on the part of the student.

Students should also complete at least one major laboratory project that requires experimental design, application of laboratory techniques and analysis of data (e.g., identification of an unknown organism).

Students should participate in exercises that require them to express their understanding of microbiological concepts in both written and oral formats.


Texts will be chosen from generally recognized microbiology texts.


General Education Categories
  • Natural Sciences
Institutional Outcomes
  • Scientific Reasoning
MTA Categories
  • Category 6: Natural Sciences (Lecture and Lab)
Satisfies Wellness Requirement
Effective Term
Winter 2023