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Microbiology Learning Framework

Society Learning Goals Articles Sample Learning Objectives
How do microorganisms, cellular and viral, interact with both human and non-human hosts in beneficial, neutral, or detrimental ways?
  • State two ways that the normal microbiota are beneficial to a human host.
  • Name two sites on the human body colonized by the normal microbiota, and give an example of the type of organisms found at those sites.
  • Describe at least two innate physical defenses in the human body that are used to fend off an infection.
  • Given a particular pathogen (symbiont), describe how it creates cell damage (benefits) in its host.
  • Compare and contrast commensal, symbiotic, and pathogenic relationships.
  • Explain what adaptations are necessary for a bacterium to survive in the respiratory tract, skin, intestinal tract, or urinary tract.
  • Describe how the human microbiome influences the host human organism.
  • Describe a situation that could lead to the normal microbiota causing disease.
  • Given a human defense, describe a mechanism that would allow a bacterial pathogen to evade it.
How do microorganisms interact with their environment and modify each other?
  • List two factors that limit growth in a batch culture.
  • Define the term eutrophication.
  • Choose a perturbation to a novel environment, and predict the change to the resident microbial community.
  • Explain how the presence of a microorganism elicits a cellular or humoral immune response.
  • Discuss an example of host-parasite (e.g., human and microbes, bacteria and phage, etc.) coevolution.
  • Describe how fermentative bacteria in sourdough (or other foods) change their environment, and how that affects the initial community.
  • Explain why the presence of nitrogen-fixing bacteria is often required to support other growth in a diverse ecosystem.
Why do most bacteria in nature live in biofilm communities?
  • Give an example of a beneficial and a detrimental biofilm.
  • List the stages of biofilm formation and maturation.
  • Compare and contrast cell structure and function in a biofilm with pelagic cells.
  • Explain how and why biofilm development may differ in different environments.
  • Predict conditions that would favor biofilm formation and where they might be found.
  • Identify the stages of biofilm development that are more susceptible to destruction.
  • Describe differential gene expression in a biofilm.
  • Develop a drug to prevent biofilm formation.
  • Explain the role of biofilms in chronic diseases/infections.
How are microorganisms ubiquitous and live in diverse and dynamic ecosystems?
  • List two keystone bacterial guilds in these environments: oligotrophic ocean, marshland soil, and agricultural field (or others).
  • Describe an extreme environment where microbes can survive under conditions that humans cannot.
  • Explain what adaptations have occurred in psychrophiles/thermophiles/halophiles, etc., that permit them to exist in their optimal environmental growth conditions.
  • List the main characteristics of microbes that might be present in a given ecosystem, e.g., the animal gastrointestinal tract, the anaerobic mud layer at the pond bottom, etc.
  • Speculate on what characteristics would be useful for a microbe to survive a move through interplanetary space.
  • Discuss how metagenomics can be a tool to study microbes in situ and/or in extreme environments.


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