Syllabus - Laboratory and Lecture




Dr. James Bricker
Office: BI 116
Campus Phone: 2457
E-mail: bricker@tcnj.edu
WWW URL:     http://bricker.tcnj.edu/
Office Hours: in either BI 116 or BI 112

Basic Information

Purpose statement: Microbiology is an upper level course, aimed at juniors and seniors that is designed for Biology majors who want to expand their knowledge of the microscopic world, in general, or for use in professional or graduate school. It is taught at a level which should allow for seamless continuity with Medical, Dental and Graduate Microbiology courses. However, it is not a purpose oriented course - it is a general Microbiology course, not a pre-med microbiology course. The major themes, as stated below are general principles for growth, evolution and classification, description of microbiological life forms, uses of microorganisms, and microorganisms in disease. Students will be expected to develop an understanding of these topics, and be able to use them in class, in the laboratory, and in exams.

Microbiology is an integral part of many different scientific studies, such as immunology, genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, medicine, agriculture, ecology, industrial processes and many more. People working in these fields use microbiology in their daily procedures, although they aren't microbiologists. Because of the wide range of its applications, understanding the basics of microbiology is in many ways essential to our completeness as biologists, no matter what field we may pursue. Microorganisms (in the context of this course) are minute living things that are individually too small to be seen with the naked eye. The term includes bacteria, microscopic fungi (yeasts and molds), protozoans, microscopic algae, prions and viruses. Microorganisms can be associated with many diseases, infections and inconveniences such as AIDS, pimples, and spoiled food. However, the majority of microorganisms make vital contributions to the world's inhabitants. They maintain the balance of chemicals and living organisms in the global environment. For example, the algae and cyanobacteria found in the oceans and waters of the globe are the major source of oxygen for living things. In many places microorganisms are the basis for the food chain. They help to recycle chemical elements in the land and water. Microorganisms also have been used for commercial benefits. Cultured microorganisms can be used to synthesize products more cheaply than they can be manufactured by other means (biotechnology). Microorganisms have also been used to produce products that have "always" been a part of our lives, such as vinegar, wine, sauerkraut, pickles, beer, green olives, soy sauce, buttermilk bread, cheese, and yoghurt, to name a few.

Course description: The purpose of this semester of Microbiology is to familiarize the student with those concepts that are basic to viruses and prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Lecture is the foundation of the course. Laboratories will not always coincide with the lecture topics, as the laboratories are designed to give the student the basic laboratory techniques necessary to identify microorganisms. The student is responsible for assignments (such as designated papers from the scientific literature) that add to the lecture and lab material. In order to enhance appreciation of the course, the student is encouraged to seek out related materials that are available, such as scientific journals (e.g. Cell, Nature, Scientific American), newspapers, magazines and television programs (e.g. channels 12 and 52) that relate to course topics, and bring them to the notice of the class and/ or professor.

There are five basic topics in this course - the general principles for microbial the growth, evolution and classification; descriptions of different prokaryotic, eukaryotic and other lifeforms and how they utilize these principles; the natural ecology of microorganisms; the human use of microorganisms; and how microorganisms function in disease. Section one covers the first topic, the second topic is covered by sections two and three, and the final three are covered in section four. Some aspects of the last two topics are woven throuout the course.

In order to understand how microorganisms can live, one must know what the parameters for their existance are. In order to get a feel for the diversity and scope of the microbial world, one must have a feel for what kinds of organisms exist, and to understand the ecology, uses and dangers of microorganisms, one should have a general knowledge of the different organisms to be encountered. All of these things are useful in life, in order to make informed decisions, and to go on to professional or graduate school.

Learning activities will include reading and evaluation scientific papers, learning basic Microbiological techniques, identifying unknown bacteria, answering questions in lecture and writing scientific papers.

Subjects learned previously in Themes of Biology (e.g. evolution, ecology) will be applied to the microbial world, as will those learned in General and Organic Chemistry, when discussing the makeup and energy useage of microorganisms.

Prerequisites: Themes in Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry.

Learning Goals

Content Goals: When they have finished the course, students will have been introduced to a working knowledge of basic bacterial laboratory techniques, as well as to the foundations of Microbiology - the concepts of classification, evolution and growth of microorganisms, as well as a factual and laboratory knowledge of specific microorganism types - In addition, they should have developed an understanding of microbial ecology and of medical and practical uses for microorganisms, and how they relate to basic biological concepts. It is the intent of the course to provide an opportunity to learn the skills necessary to understand and get a feel for the basic ideas embodied within the various facts that they will encounter, and how those ideas are related. This should allow them to establish a firm foundation for future Microbiology courses and/or a good appreciation of concepts needed to make reasoned choices in their everyday lives. In general, they should understand how microorganisms survive where they do, how they are related, and how they interact with us. In the laboratory they should acquire basic bacteriological skills and should be able to successfully use them.

Performance Goals: Students should acquire a good understanding of the concepts above. They should be able to show their mastery of them in oral and written form, in lecture, in the laboratory and in exams. They should be able to design experiments to identify microorganisms, interpret the data and communicate it.

Student Assessment

Microbiology is designed for Biology majors who want to expand their knowledge of the microscopic world, in general, or for use in professional or graduate school. Students need to be able to understand both the concepts presented as well as have a basic understanding of the factual nature of the course. They have to know what kinds of organisms are out there, in order to go on to higher learning, or to better understand the world. In order to achieve that goal, feedback will be given on questions asked in lecture and laboratory, exams and on the final laboratory report in as prompt fashion as possible so that the students will always understand how they stand.

Learning Activities

These will consist of lectures, laboratory demonstrations, laboratory work (including independent investigation to identify unknown organisms), reading assigned scientific papers, writing a final laboratory report and answering those questions that are asked in lecture and laboratory. Outside the formal lecture / laboratory structure, the student is expected to read assignments in the text, as well as assigned papers from the scientific literature, and study the concepts presented in lecture, laboratory and in the text. Hopefully this mix of learning styles will create a deeper appreciation of Microbiology.

Initiative on the part of each individual student in asking pertinent questions and inviting conversation on related outside topics will be noted in the final grade. Selected articles; resource texts and reserve library materials may be assigned as required. Prescott, Harley and Klein (text) as assigned. Lectures cannot cover all that is in the text, and are designed to be complementary to, instead of a repetition of, the text. Exams will be on the lecture material and on those portions of the text directly relating to it. Assigned text readings are listed by chapter; a given lecture might not cover all the subjects in the chapter(s) listed. Most topics will be outlined in notes published on the web prior to the lecture, if possible. These notes are study guides, and are only a part of what is required for exams.


Text: Microbiology; Prescott, Harley and Klein, 6 ed.

SECTION ONE:The basics of microbial existance and detection
IntroductionChapter 1
MicroscopyChapter 2
Prokaryotic Structure & FunctionChapter 3
Microbial NutritionChapter 5
Microbial GrowthChapter 6
Control of MicrobesChapter 7
TaxonomyChapter 19
EXAM 1All of the above
SECTION TWO:The bacteria
Gram Negative BacteriaChapter 21
Gram Negative BacteriaChapter 22
Gram Positive BacteriaChapter 23, 24
Gram Positive BacteriaChapter 24, 20
EXAM 2From Taxonomy through the Archaea
SECTION THREE:The eukaryotes and viruses
Eukaryotic Structure & FunctionChapter 4
FungiChapter 25
AlgaeChapter 26
ProtistaChapter 27
VirusesChapter 16
Prokaryotic VirusesChapter 17
Eukaryotic VirusesChapter 18, 38
EXAM 3From Eukaryotic Structure & Function through the viruses
SECTION FOUR:Microbial ecology; food, industrial and medical microbiology
SymbiosisChapter 28
Aquatic EcologyChapter 29
Terrestrial EcologyChapter 30
Industrial MicrobiologyChapter 42
Food MicrobiologyChapter 41
Medical MicrobiologyChapter 34 - 37; 39 - 40
To be announcedFINAL EXAMAll of the above


Text: Beishir; Microbiology in Practice ed.6

The Laboratory is set up to familiarize the student with the techniques necessary to grow and identify microorganisms. The first quarter of the semester covers basic techniques of media preparation, staining and microscopy. The second quarter covers recognition and differentiation of microbial characteristics in culture. The next section is devoted to microbial identification based on metabolic differences. The student will then test his or her knowledge by using the above information to identify a mixture of two unknowns in the last section of the course. A six page research report of the unknown identification will be required, in formal scientific paper format (including bibliography), and will count for 20% of the total grade in the course.

Laboratory Safety, Microscopy, Aseptic Technique4, 5, 6
Bacterial Cultures, Slide Preparation, Staining, Streaking22, 23, 24, 12
Streaking, Pour Plates7, 8, 9, 10, 12
Bacterial Characteristics11, 12, 13, 25
Differential and Selective Media, IMViC Test39, 40, 49, 50
Bacterial Identification34, 37
Litmus Milk, Carbohydrate Fermentation, Hydrogen Sulfide and Agglutination Tests34,37
Further Tests32,35,36,38, 46
Identification of Unknowns56, all of the above


Student Responsibilities:

Attendance in lab and lecture is necessary and expected. Individual assignments may be given out at various times in the course. They are expected to give an opportunity for individuality and creativity and add to an appreciation of course topics.

Student Input:

Personal interests and ideas relating to the course are encouraged, and, where possible, incorporated into the course. If you have ideas or opinions, express them so that they can add to the appreciation of the course. The course is improved by responsible input from the student.


The three exams given in the semester will count for a total of 50% of the grade (each exam will be worth the same). Each exam is made up of a selection of five essay questions, which the student is to pick from a pool of at least nine overall questions. All questions are of equal credit, and are to be answered to the best of the student's ability. The final will count for 30% of the grade, and is cumulative. The laboratory grade is based mainly on the formal laboratory report on the identification of unknown organisms, but also includes the instructor's assessment of the student's behavior for the entire laboratory (see below).

Three exams:50%
Final exam:30%

The professor's evaluation of student participation in lecture and laboratory can be used to benefit hard working students and possibly enhance their grade if they are in a borderline position. All makeup exams will be given on the last Wednesday of classes, by appointment. The student must contact Dr. Bricker in advance if he/she must miss an exam in order to be eligible for a makeup. There will be no exceptions for this makeup procedure.