Microbiology: Medicine, Environment, and Industry

In this module you will learn about how microorganisms impact on humans, both in the context of health and disease and by looking at how humans have exploited microorganisms.

In the Human Health and Disease section you will learn about three of the major groups of disease causing microorganisms; bacteria, fungi and viruses, with emphasis on the underlying mechanisms by which these organisms cause disease. As the course progresses you will begin to recognise that common themes underpin our understanding of the diseases caused by these quite different groups of microorganisms; these themes will be explored in the overview session at the end of this section of the course.

Many of the topics in the Environment and Industry section also relate to protecting human health, including antibiotic, vaccine, and medicinal protein production. You will also learn how properties of microorganisms have been exploited for more sustainable environmental and industrial applications.

In the practical component of the course, you will carry out and compare classical and molecular approaches used for the identification of bacteria. This will give you hands on experience of handling bacteria and give you the opportunity to put into practice the aseptic technique that you learned in the first year. The molecular approach for identification is based on PCR and sequencing and will build on what you learned in the first semester module Molecular Biology and its Applications.

In the Fungal growth and virulence” workshop you will work through data on fungal growth in liquid and solid culture and on different methods for the assessment of fungal virulence 

By the end of the module you should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the nature and biology of bacteria, fungi and viruses and their medical and economic importance.
  • Discuss the common themes that underpin our understanding of the diseases caused by different groups of microorganisms.
  • Describe, using specific examples, how microorganisms have been exploited by humans and how this relates to their underlying characteristics.
  • Demonstrate practical skills required for the investigation of micro-organisms, and discuss the different techniques employed
  • Analyse and interpret data in order to make judgements and formulate arguments