Learning Objectives for Microbiology (updated for Black textbook)

Chapter 1 Scope and History of Microbiology

Students should be able to:
1. Define microorganism, bacteriology, mycology, parasitology, immunology, virology, microbial genetics and emerging infectious disease.
2. Identify groups of organisms and infectious agents studied in microbiology and list their general characteristics.
3. Discuss several ways (positive and negative) in which microorganisms affect our lives.
4. State the contributions to microbiology made by Hooke, van Leeuwenhoek, Virchow, Pasteur, RediTyndall.
5. Discuss the significance of the following in contributing to our understanding of disease today: germ theory, cell theory, spontaneous generation, biogenesis.
10. List at least four beneficial activities of microorganisms.
11. Identify emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and explain some reasons for their appearance.

Chapter 3 Microscopy and Staining

Students should be able to:
1. Know the parts of a light microscope and their functions.
2. Explain the terms magnification, resolution, refractive index and parfocal, reflection, refraction, diffraction.
3. Calculate total magnification.
4. Discuss how the following improve resolution: electrons vs. light; and immersion oil.

5. Compare the benefits and limitations of electron microscopy as compared with light microscopy.
6. Know the difference between simple, basic, acidic, differential and special stains.
7. Define mordant and decolorizer.
8. Describe how to perform a Gram stain.
9. Describe the appearance of Gram positive and Gram negative cells after each step of the Gram stain.

Chapter 4 Characteristics of Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Cells 

Students should be able to: 

1. Explain what features of a cell are distinguished in the following stains: Gram stain, acid fast, endosporeflagella, capsule.
2. Describe the morphology (shape and arrangement) of microorganisms based on terms given in class.
3. Compare and contrast the overall cell structure of prokaryotes and eukaryotes.
4. Identify the three basic shapes of bacteria.
5. Describe the structure and function of the glycocalyx, flagella, axial filaments, fimbriae and pili

6. Compare and contrast the cell walls of Gram positive bacteria, Gram negative bacteria, archaea and mycoplasma.
7. Describe the structure, chemistry and function of the prokaryotic plasma membrane.
8. Define simple diffusion, osmosis, facilitated diffusion, active transport and group translocation, exocytosisendocytosis.
9. Identify the functions of the nuclear area, ribosomes and storage granules.
10. Differentiate between prokaryotic and eukaryotic flagella.
11. Discuss evidence that supports the endosymbiotic theory of eukaryotic evolution.

Chapter 6 Growth and Culturing of Bacteria 

Students should be able to: 

1. Define growth as it pertains to bacteria.

2. Explain the process of binary fission.
3. Identify the parts of a growth curve and explain what is occurring in each phase.

4. List methods of determining cell numbers, cell mass, cell concentration and metabolic activity.
5. Discuss at least six physical growth of microorganisms and define the terms associated with these concepts.
6. Discuss at least seven chemical growth requirements of microorganisms.
7. Distinguish among different types of oxygen requirements (obligate and facultative anaerobes, aerotolerantmicroaerophileaerobe) on the basis of enzymes present and how they grow in various concentrations of oxygen.

8. Describe the process of sporulation and germination; indicate the significance of endospores and identify two common genera of endospore forming bacteria.
9. Explain what enzymes a microorganism must have to grow in the presence of oxygen and what these enzymes do.
10. Distinguish between chemically defined, complex, selective, differential and enrichment media; broth, slant and plate cultures and identify situations in which each would be used.
11. Define aseptic technique, and describe both the technique and its purpose.

12. Describe three techniques of obtaining a pure culture in the laboratory.
13. Define the terms in bold in the chapter and use them properly. 

Chapter 5 Essential Concepts of Metabolism

Students should be able to:
1.Define metabolism, and distinguish between anabolism and catabolism.
2. Explain what is meant by coupling of reactions.
3. Distinguish between oxidation and reduction and explain their significance in living organisms.
4. Interpret the symbols used in a chemical equation, identifying reactants, enzymes, products, coreactant, energy carrier molecule, reversible reactions.
5. List three types of phosphorylation reactions that generate ATP.
6. List the characteristics of a catalyst.
7. Describe the mechanism of enzyme action in terms of the lock and key model. 

8. Describe the characteristics of a coenzyme and state its relationship to enzyme function.
9.Discuss the factors that influence enzyme activity.
10.Distinguish between competitive inhibitor and noncompetitive inhibitor.
11.Explain feedback inhibition.
12.Explain the overall function of metabolic pathways.
13.Identify common carriers of hydrogen, electrons and energy within the cell.
14.Describe the chemiosmotic model for ATP generation.
15.Compare and contrast aerobic and anaerobic respiration.
16.Compare aerobic and anaerobic respiration and fermentation in terms of products produced (final electron acceptors), pathways employed, and amount of useful energy produced.
17.List two methods other than glycolysis for the breakdown of glucose, and indicate situations in which each pathway may be used.
18.List the three stages of aerobic respiration, and indicate the substrate, product and number of ATP, NADH+ and FADH2 produced from each stage.
19.List the three major classes of fermentation products.
20.Describe the significance of glycolysis and the citric acid cycle in relation to overall metabolism (not just the breakdown of glucose). [Why is it the interstate highway of the cell?]
21.Define the term ‘cycle', as used in the citric acid cycle.
22.Explain the difference in the total number of ATP molecules produced by aerobic respiration in prokaryotes and eukaryotes.
23.Define the terms phototroph,chemotrophautotrophheterotroph

Chapter 12 Sterilization and Disinfection and Chapter 13 Antimicrobial Therapy

Students should be able to:
1. Define terms related to sterilization and disinfection (table 12.1).

2. List three principles that apply to the processes of sterilization and disinfection.

3.Identify methods of controlling microbial growth (disinfection, sterilization methods, pasteurization) and indicate the uses for which each is most suitable.
4. Identify factors which will influence effectiveness (potency) of disinfectants (type, number, and physiological state of microbes, environment, temperature).
5. Describe methods of determining effectiveness of microbial control.
6. Explain modes of action of microbial control agents (physical and chemical) and antibiotics.
7. Compare and contrast moist and dry heat in terms of the time of treatment and suitable applications.
8. Define equivalent treatments and give an example.
9. Interpret a microbial death curve, and distinguish between thermal death time, thermal death point and death reduction time. 

10. Describe how refrigeration, freezing, drying, and freeze-drying are used to control and preserve microorganisms.
11. Interpret results of use-dilution and filter paper tests for disinfectant effectiveness.
12. Identify the best method of sterilization for the following applications: broth culture, plastic labware, heat-labile vitamin dissolved in water, surgical instruments that may have been exposed to Clostridium.
13. Define terms relating to disinfection and antimicrobials (antisepsis, germicide ,bacteriostasis, asepsis, antisepsis, chemotherapy, degerming, sanitation, chemotherapeutic agent, antimicrobial, antibiotic, synthetic drug, semisynthetic drug, sterilization, disinfection).
14. Describe modes of action of antimicrobial agents (against bacteria, viruses, eukaryotic pathogens). 

15. Describe three significant side effects associated with the use of antimicrobial agents.
16. Discuss the specific problems encountered when designing chemotherapeutic agents for viral fungal, protozoan and helminthic infections.
17. Describe the characteristics of the perfect antibiotic.

18. Describe methods of determining antimicrobial effectiveness.
19. Know the organisms for which the following chemotherapeutic agents are effective: penicillin, polymyxin B, cephalosporin, bacitracinamphotericin, tetracycline, chloroquine, protease inhibitors.
20. Discuss the causes associated with bacterial resistance to antibiotics, and identify means of reducing antibiotic resistance. 

21. Explain how resistant hospital infections arise and discuss the problems associated with their treatment and prevention.

Chapter 7 Microbial Genetics

Students should be able to:
1. Define genetics, gene, genome, genotype and phenotype.
2. Describe the structure of DNA in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. 
3. Explain the meaning of the following terms as they pertain to DNA structure: complementary, antiparallel, sugar phosphate backbone, semiconservative replication, hydrogen bonds. 
4. Distinguish between DNA replication, transcription, translation and reverse transcription. 
5. Identify the process in which each of the following are used: helicase, DNA polymerase, ligase, RNA polymerase, ribosomes, mRNA, tRNA,rRNA
6. Explain the difference between leading strand and lagging strand DNA synthesis.
7. Define the central dogma of molecular biology. 
8. Describe the function of each of the three major classes of RNA molecules. 
9. Compare and contrast the structure of RNA and DNA. 
10. Compare and contrast two methods of regulating protein synthesis (repression, induction). 
11. Identify differences in transcription and translation between prokaryotes and eukaryotes (location, mRNA processing, size of ribosomes, coupling of processes in prokaryotes). 

12. Define spontaneous and induced mutations.
13. Compare missense, nonsense and frameshift mutations.
14. List classes of mutagenic agents and explain how they exert their effect. 

15. Describe the fluctuation test, Ames test and replicaplating, and discuss how these methods are used in studying bacterial mutations.

Chapter 8 Gene Transfer and Genetic Engineering

Students should be able to:
1. Distinguish between methods of genetic transfer in prokaryotes (transformation, transduction, and conjugation).

2. Explain the use of the following: restriction enzymes, plasmids, gene library, PCR, vectors. 

3. Explain the significance of resistance plasmids in fighting disease.
4. Describe four examples of genetic engineering applications. 

5. Discuss the ethical ramifications of genetic engineering.

Chapter 9 An Introduction to Taxonomy: The Bacteria

Students should be able to: 

1. Discuss how and why microorganisms are named.

2. Describe how a dichotomous taxonomic key is used to identify organisms.

3. Describe the five kingdom classification system, and place organisms in the correct kingdom based on their cell type (prokaryotic or eukaryotic), number of cells (unicellular or multicelluar), and method of obtaining food (autotroph or heterotroph, absorption or ingestion). 

4. Discuss the rationale behind classifying organisms in a five kingdom system; a three kingdom system.

5. Describe the major taxonomic developments since Linnaeus’s time.
6. Distinguish between the domains bacteria and archaea.
7. Explain the method of classification of organisms from kingdom to species.
8. Recognize scientific names and know the correct way to write them.
9. distinguish between classification and identification of a microorganism.
10. describe how a new bacterium can be classified by the following molecular methods: amino acid sequencing, protein profiles, base composition, DNA fingerprinting, PCR and hybridization.
11. describe how an organism can be identified based on the following methods: staining, morphology, biochemical testing, serology and fatty acid analysis.
12. explain why it is difficult to group bacteria in species. 

13. Describe the following: serological testing, phage typing, G + C content, hybridization, amino acid sequencing, protein analysis.

14. Explain what is meant by numerical taxonomy.

15. Know the GENERAL characteristics (system involved, vector [where applicable]) of the genera of disease?causing microorganisms.

16. Genera and species students should recognize: 


Bacillus anthracis



Campylobacter jejuni

Chlamydia trachomatis

Clostridium botulinum



Escherichia coli 


Helicobacter pylori



Mycobacterium tuberculosis Mycobacterium leprae


NocardiaasteroidesPropionibacterium acnes 


Pseudomonas aeruginosa


Salmonella typhi


Staphylococcus aureus

Staphylococcus epidermidis

Streptococcus pyogenes

Streptococcus mutans

Streptococcus pneumoniae






Chapter 10 Viruses

Students should be able to: 

1. describe the components of a virus.

2. Explain what is meant by host range and specificity of a virus.

3. Explain what characteristics are used to classify viruses.

4. Define viroid and prion.

5. Explain the difference between a lytic and lysogenic bacteriophage.

6. Compare and contrast viral replication in bacteria and animals.

7. Discuss role of viruses interatogenesis and oncogenesis.

8. Explain what is meant by latent and slow viral infections.

9. Know the GENERAL characteristics (system involved, vector [where applicable]) of the genera of disease?causing microorganisms.

10. Genera and species students should recognize:




polyoma virus 





Epstein?Barr virus 






rhabdoviruses (rabies) 

filoviruses (Ebola) 





Chapter 11 Eukaryotic Microorganisms and Parasites

Students should be able to: 

1. Define the terms parasite and parasitology and list five principles of parasitism.

2. Explain the method of classifying organisms in the kingdoms Protista and Fungi. 

3. Define hyphae, mycelium.

4 .Contrast nutritional requirements of bacterial and fungal pathogens.

5 Identify the two major groups of parasitic helminthes.

6 .Describe the life cycle of a typical helminth, including intermediate and definitive hosts.

7. Distinguish between flatworms and roundworms.

8. Distinguish between arthropod vectors and arthropods as disease agents.

9. Know the GENERAL characteristics (system involved, vector [where applicable]) of the genera of disease?causing microorganisms.

10. Genera and species students should recognize: 





Balantidium coli 



Candida albicans



Cryptococcus neoformans










Chapter 14 Host-Microbe Relationships and Disease Processes

Students should be able to: 

1. Define pathogen, etiology, infection and disease.
2. Define normal and transient microbiota.
3. Compare commensalism, mutualism, and parasitism, and give an example of each.
4. Compare and contrast normal and transient with opportunistic microbes.
5. List Koch's postulates.
6. Apply Koch's postulates in identifying a pathogen.
7. Distinguish between infectious and noninfectious diseases; communicable and noncommunicable infectious diseases; exogenous and endogenous diseases.

8. List and describe at least five different mechanisms by which microbes cause disease.

9. Distinguish among signs, symptoms and syndrome. 

10. Differentiate between incidence and prevalence.
11. Categorize diseases according to severity (chronic, acute, latent).
12. Identify extent of host involvement in a disease (local, systemic, inapparent infections).
13. Define bacteremia, septicemia, toxemia; primary, secondary  infection.
14. Identify pathogenic properties of various groups of pathogens (direct damage to host tissue, toxins, cytopathic effects, allergic responses). 

15. State the source and symptoms of endotoxins and exotoxins.
16. Indicate whether the following are endotoxins or exotoxins, and give an example of each: cytotoxins,enterotoxins, neurotoxins.
17. State the symptoms of endotoxins.
18. Describe the role of plasmids and lysogeny in pathogenicity and provide examples.
19. List nine cytopathic effects of viral infections.

20. Discuss the causes of symptoms in fungal, protozoalhelminthic and algal diseases. 

Chapter 15 Epidemiology and Nosocomial Infections

Students should be able to: 

1. Define epidemiology and list and describe terms that are used by epidemiologists.

2. Classify the four disease categories according to their spread in populations.

3. List the purposes and methods used in epidemiological studies.

4. List three types of reservoirs of infection and describe how each contributes to human disease.

5. Define portal of entry and portal of exit.

6. Describe modes of transmission in the spread of human disease.

7. Describe four methods used to control communicable diseases.

8. Describe an infectious disease cycle, noting especially howherd immunity is related.

9. Provide several examples illustrating how the functions of organizations and the reporting of notifiable diseases contribute to public health.

10. Define nosocomial infections and describe how they are studied epidemiologically.

11. Describe several methods used in the prevention and control of nosocomial infections.

12. Define normal and transient microbiota, and compare and contrast with opportunistic microbes.

13. Differentiate between incidence and prevalence.

14. Distinguish between common source and propagated epidemics in terms of how the disease is spread.

15. Categorize diseases according to severity (chronic, acute subacute, latent).

16. Explain the importance of reporting cases in determining chain of transmission.

17. Define the following terms: morbidity, mortality, notifiable disease.


For questions, comments and additional information, contact  mfhicks@pstcc.edu
Last Updated: May 30, 2003
Site map: Margaret F. Hicks Home - Biology 2230


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