Core Themes and Concepts for an Introductory Microbiology Course

Theme 1: Microbial cell biology (Information flow within a cell, Regulation of cellular activities, Cellular structure and function, Growth and division, Cell energy metabolism)

Theme 2: Microbial genetics (Inheritance of genetic information, Cause, consequences and uses of mutations, Exchange and acquisition of genetic information)

Theme 3: Interactions and impact of microorganisms and humans (Host defense mechanisms, Microbial pathogenicity mechanisms, Disease transmission, Antibiotics and chemotherapy, Genetic engineering, Biotechnology)

Theme 4: Interactions and impact of microorganisms in the environment (Adaptation and natural selection, Symbiosis, Microbial recycling of resources, Microbes transforming environment)

Theme 5: Integrating Themes (Microbial evolution, Microbial diversity)


Recommendations for the Introductory Microbiology Laboratory Core Curriculum

Laboratory Skills

A student successfully completing basic microbiology will demonstrate ability to:

1.       Use a bright field light microscope to view and interpret slides, including correctly setting up and focusing the microscope, proper handling, cleaning, and storage of the microscope, correct use of all lenses, and recording microscopic observations.

2.       Properly prepare slides for microbiological examination, including cleaning and disposing of slides, preparing smears from solid and liquid cultures, performing wet mount and/or hanging drop preparations, and performing Gram stains.

3.       Properly use aseptic techniques for the transfer and handling of microorganisms and instruments, including sterilizing and maintaining sterility of transfer instruments, performing aseptic transfer, and obtaining microbial samples.

4.       Use appropriate microbiological media and test systems, including isolating colonies and/or plaques, maintaining pure cultures, using biochemical test media, and accurately recording macroscopic observations .

5.       Estimate the number of microbes in a sample using serial dilution techniques, including correctly choosing and using pipettes and pipetting devices, correctly spreading diluted samples for counting, estimating appropriate dilutions, and extrapolating plate counts to obtain the correct CFU or PFU in the starting sample.

6.       Use standard microbiology laboratory equipment correctly, including using the standard metric system for weights, lengths, diameters, and volumes, lighting and adjusting a laboratory burner, and using an incubator.

Laboratory Thinking Skills

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

1.       Cognitive processes, including formulating a clear, answerable question, developing a testable hypothesis, predicting expected results, and following an experimental protocol.

2.       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), and drawing appropriate conclusions based on the results.

3.       Communication skills, including discussing and presenting lab results or findings in the laboratory.

4.       Interpersonal and citizenry 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.

5.       Integrating knowledge and making informed judgments about microbiology in everyday life

American Society for Microbiology Laboratory Safety Objectives

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


Reporting all spills and broken glassware to the instructor and receiving instructions for clean up


Methods for aseptic transfer


Minimizing or containing the production of aerosols and describing the hazards associated with aerosols


Washing hands prior to and following laboratories and at any time contamination is suspected


Using universal precautions with blood and other body fluids and following the requirements of the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard


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


Identification and proper disposal of different types of waste


Reading and signing a laboratory safety agreement indicating that the student has read and understands
the safety rules of the laboratory


Good lab practice, including returning materials to proper locations, proper care and handling of equipment,
and keeping the bench top clear of extraneous materials

A student successfully completing basic microbiology will demonstrate ability to explain and practice safe 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

A student successfully completing basic microbiology will demonstrate ability to explain and practice safe 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

In addition, institutions where microbiology laboratories are taught will


    Train faculty and staff in proper waste stream management


Provide and maintain all necessary safety equipment and information resource


Train faculty, staff, and students in the use of safety equipment and procedures


Train faculty and staff in use of MSDS