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Microbiology Learning Framework

Society Learning Goals Articles Sample Learning Objectives
How are the growth of microorganisms controlled by physical, chemical, mechanical, or biological means?
  • Define the following: antibacterial spectrum, bacteriostatic, bactericidal, antibiotic synergism, and antibiotic antagonism.
  • Compare sterilization with pasteurization in terms of outcomes.
  • Compare ionizing radiation with UV radiation in terms of how they kill cells.
  • Predict the growth behavior of microbes based on their growth conditions, e.g., temperature, available nutrient, aeration level, etc.
  • Given a particular situation, present an argument for the best method (e.g., physical, chemical, biological, etc.) for controlling bacterial growth.
  • State the function of complement in the immune response.
  • Explain two strategies that are used in human food preparation to minimize microbial growth during storage.
  • Describe how the non-specific immune response works to inhibit microbial growth (e.g. fever, engulfment, inflammatory response).
  • Compare and contrast the role of cytotoxic and helper T cells in the specific immune response.
  • Explain how a vaccine can be used to elicit a long-term protective immune response.
  • Given a particular organism, develop an isolation scheme using selective media.
How does the survival and growth of any microorganism in a given environment depend on its metabolic characteristics?
  • Define cardinal temperature, maximum temperature, and minimum temperature for an organism.
  • Define thermophilic, psychrophilic, psychrotolerant, mesophilic, halophilic, acidophilic, alkalophilic, etc., organisms.
  • Explain the concept of diauxic growth.
  • Describe how very high (or low) temperatures, pH, or salt concentration inhibit growth (e.g., membrane stability, enzyme activity, proton motive force, etc.).
  • Name the four phases of prokaryotic growth, and describe what the cells are doing during each phase.
  • Describe how oxygen affects the growth of aerobes, obligate anaerobes, and facultative anaerobes.
  • Given the starting concentration of a culture and the number of generations that occur, calculate the final concentration of the culture.
  • Explain in general terms what a chemostat is and for what it is used.
How are the interactions of microorganisms among themselves and with their environment determined by their metabolic abilities?
  • Provide two examples of how microbial metabolism alters the surrounding physical environment.
  • Define quorum sensing.
  • Give an example of and explain how microbial metabolism is important to a relevant societal issue (e.g., health and disease, bioremediation, agriculture, etc.).
  • Give an example of how quorum sensing is advantageous to bacterial cells in a given environment.
  • Give an example where the waste product of one microorganism serves as an important substrate for another organism (e.g., ammonium-oxidizing bacteria and nitrite-oxidizing bacteria, hydrogen producers and methanogens, sulfur oxidizers and sulfur reducers, etc.).
How do bacteria and Archaea exhibit extensive, and often unique, metabolic diversity?
  • List two differences between substrate-level phosphorylation and oxidative phosphorylation.
  • Describe how aerobic respiration differs from anaerobic respiration.
  • State the difference between oxygenic and anoxygenic photophosphorylation.
  • Given an energy source and a carbon source, determine the metabolic lifestyle of an organism (e.g., chemoheterotroph, chemolithoautotroph, photoheterotroph, or photoautotroph).
  • Given energy demands and available substrates, predict which metabolic pathways a cell could use.
  • Given the major components of an electron transport chain, put them in order and explain how it could generate a proton motive force for the cell.
  • Design a mechanism that would allow a bacterium to protect its nitrogenase from oxygen.
  • Analyze the symbiotic relationship that some N2-fixing bacteria have with plants. Identify what the bacteria contribute and what the plant contributes.
  • Describe the process of methanogenesis in terms of electron transport and energy generation.


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