Elementary Microbiology Laboratory

This course explores selected techniques used to observe, identify and count bacteria, as well as the effects of chemical and physical agents on microorganisms. The course demonstrates the use and importance of microbes in everyday life. Instruction begins with the proper handling and visualization of microorganisms. Almost by definition, the vast majority of microorganisms are too small to be seen with the naked eye. Therefore, students must learn the correct use of the light microscope. Instruction in the proper care and maintenance of the microscope is provided. Students prepare and stain specimens using a number of methods designed to characterize microorganisms. The importance of working safely in a laboratory setting is emphasized throughout the course.Many skills are developed in this laboratory course. Aseptic (without contamination) technique is taught and is used to transfer organisms properly from one culture medium to another. A variety of media are used and the reasons for their use are explained. Students also learn how to calculate the number of bacteria in specimens such as water, soil or food. The course demonstrates ways to control microbial growth by means of temperature, osmotic pressure, pH, exposure to ultraviolet light and disinfectants.