I.     Course Prefix/Number: BIO 251

       Course Name: Microbiology

       Credits: 4 (3 lecture; 3 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

BIO 121 (preferred) with a minimum grade of C or BIO 231 with a minimum grade of C

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Laboratory course introduces biology of microorganisms including bacteria, fungi, protists and viruses. Content includes metabolism, genetics, identification, control, physiology, relationship to health and disease, and host defense. Intended primarily for student in health fields.

IV.   Learning Objectives

After successfully completing this course, the student should be able to:


  1. Explain the critical role of microbes in human welfare and disease.
  2. Differentiate among the different types of microscopy.
  3. Evaluate the role of prokaryotic cellular structures in critical capabilities of those microbes as well as serving as potential targets for antibiotics, identification and the immune response (e.g.  bacterial cell walls, capsules, endospores, pili and flagella).
  4. Evaluate how metabolic diversity (aerobic respiration, anaerobic respiration, fermentation, and photosynthesis) among microbes can be applied for the purposes of cultivation, control and identification.
  5. Examine the basic requirements for microbial cultivation/growth and appropriate methods for measuring growth.
  6. Judge the appropriateness of physical and chemical methods of microbial growth control in particular situations.
  7. Compare and contrast DNA replication, transcription, and translation among microbes.
  8. Evaluate the difference between various types of prokaryotic gene regulation and their impact on microbial function.
  9. Evaluate the effect of genetic variations resulting from different types of mutations and mutagenic agents on microbial function.
  10. Examine the application of recombinant DNA technology in medicine, agriculture and scientific research.
  11. Distinguish between the methods used in classifying and identifying microorganisms.
  12. Compare and contrast bacteriophages and animal viruses with respect to their structures, modes of replication and roles in diseases.
  13. Distinguish between the different classes of infectious diseases including the major methods of their transmissions and different microbial mechanisms of pathogenesis.
  14. Evaluate the role of the innate and adaptive immune response in host defense.
  15. Examine microbial mechanisms to evade host specific immune responses.
  16. Relate the different mechanisms of major antimicrobial drug actions to the evolution of antibiotic resistant microbes, highlighting the role of humans in this process.
  17. Examine the medically important microorganisms, the diseases they cause and methods used to prevent and/or treat them.


  1. Demonstrate safe practices in a microbiology laboratory.
  2. Develop proficiency in microbiological terminology.  
  3. Select the safe and appropriate control measures based on different types of chemical and physical means of microbial control.
  4. Employ appropriate aseptic techniques to culture and characterize microorganisms.
  5. Demonstrate proficiency in the following methods:  streak plate isolation technique, bacterial staining techniques, wet mounts, and proper culture handling.
  6. Demonstrate proper usage of the brightfield microscope in the interpretation of microbiological slides.
  7. Select appropriate common culture media to grow specific microbes.
  8. Identify an unknown bacteria using biochemical testing.

Learning Outcomes

By the completion of your biology courses at Oakton, you will have gained the experience to.....

  1. Think critically – identify, define, analyze, interpret, and evaluate ideas, concepts, information, problems, solutions, and consequences. This includes the ability to compute and comprehend quantitative information and to engage in the scientific process.
  2. Communicate – communicate ideas, concepts, and information through written and oral means. Collaborate with people of diverse backgrounds and abilities.
  3. Demonstrate literacy – demonstrate the ability to read critically within content areas. Use technology to locate, evaluate, and communicate data, information, ideas, and concepts. Assess, critique, and select from a variety of information resources.
  4. Demonstrate responsibility – demonstrate an understanding of personal responsibility and ethical behavior in one’s own academic and civic life.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics


  1. Introduction
    1. Types of microorganisms
    2. Roles of microorganisms in the environment and in human health
  2. Microscopy
    1. Light microscopy: bright field, phase-contrast, fluorescent
    2. Electron microscopy: scanning and transmission
  3. Anatomy of Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Cells
    1. Prokaryotic Cell Structure – External to cell wall: capsule and appendages
    2. Prokaryotic Cell Wall: peptidoglycan
      1. Gram positive vs. Gram negative cell wall structure
      2. Cell walls and Gram stain
      3. Atypical or wall-less organisms
      4. Damage to cell wall
    3. Prokaryotic Structure – internal to cell wall: membrane, chromosome and plasmids, ribosomes, inclusions, and endospores
  4. Microbial Metabolism
    1. Catabolism vs. Anabolism: Review of Chemical Reactions
    2. Enzymes: structure and function: Review of organic compounds
    3. Inhibition: competitive, non-competitive (allosteric), and feedback inhibition
    4. Oxidation/reduction reactions and energy generation
    5. Carbohydrate metabolism – aerobic respiration
      1. Glycolysis
      2. Krebs cycle
      3. Electron Transport Chain
    6. Anaerobic Respiration and Fermentation
    7. Photosynthesis – brief review
      1. Role and impact of photosynthetic microbes
    8. Major Nutritional Types
    9. Impact of Microbial Metabolism on Human Disease
    10. Use of Microbial Metabolism for Identification
  5. Microbial Growth
    1. Physical and chemical requirements
    2. Culture media: chemically defined, complex, anaerobic, selective, differential, enriched
    3. Bacterial Growth Curves and measurement of growth
  6. Control of Microbial Growth
    1. Terminology of control
    2. Microbial Death Curve
    3. Cellular targets for antimicrobial action
    4. Physical and chemical methods of control
  7. Microbial Genetics
    1. Flow of genetic information
    2. DNA replication
    3. Transcription and translation
    4. Regulation of gene expression in prokaryotes
      1. inducible operons (i.e. lac operon)
      2. repressible operons (i.e. trp operon)
      3. catabolite repression
    5. Mutations: types and mutagenic agents
    6. Genetic transfer in prokaryotes: transformation, conjugation, transduction
    7. Transposons and other movable elements
  8. Biotechnology and Recombinant DNA
    1. Restriction enzymes, PCR and vectors
    2. Applications of rDNA in agriculture and human health
  9. Microbial Classification
    1. Basic classification: Domains and kingdoms
    2. Scientific nomenclature
    3. Methods of microbial identification and classification
  10. Prokaryotic Classification
    1. Domain Bacteria
    2. Domain Archaea
  11. Eukaryotic Classification
    1. Fungi
    2. Protozoa
    3. Helminths
    4. Arthropod vectors
  12. Viruses and Prions
    1. General characteristics and host range
    2. Viral structure: nucleic acid, capsid, envelope
    3. Isolation, cultivation, and identification of viruses
      1. bacteriophage
      2. animal viruses: embryonated eggs, cell cultures
    4. Viral Multiplication - Bacteriophage
      1. Lytic cycle
      2. Lysogenic cycle
    5. Viral Multiplication – Animal Viruses
      1. DNA viruses
      2. RNA viruses
      3. Retroviruses
    6. Viruses and Cancer
    7. Latent and persistent viral infections
    8. Prions
  13. Principles of Disease and Epidemiology
    1. Pathology, infection, disease
    2. Normal flora and relationships between flora and host
    3. Koch’s Postulates
    4. Classifying infectious diseases
    5. Patterns of disease and transmission of infection
    6. Nosocomial infections and emerging infectious diseases
    7. Epidemiology and the CDC
  14. Mechanisms of Pathogenicity
    1. Entry
    2. Evasion of host defenses
    3. How bacteria damage target cells: direct, toxins (endo and exo) and lysogeny
    4. Pathogenic properties of viruses
    5. Pathogenic properties of fungi, protozoa, and helminths
  15. Innate Immunity
    1. Skin and mucous membranes: physical and chemical barriers
    2. Blood cells especially phagocytic cells (neutrophils and macrophages)
    3. Phagocytosis and inflammation
    4. Complement and interferons
  16. Adaptive Immunity
    1. Humoral Immunity vs. Cellular immunity
    2. Antigens and antibodies
    3. B cells –antibody production
    4. Results of antigen and antibody binding
    5. T cells – types and activation, role of cytokines
    6. ADCC
  17. Antimicrobial Drugs
    1. Spectrum and mechanisms of action
    2. Survey of major groups: with focus primarily on antibacterial and antiviral drugs
  18. Selected Microbial Diseases in Following Systems:
    1. Diseases of skin and eyes
    2. Diseases of nervous system
    3. Diseases of cardiovascular and lymphatic systems
    4. Diseases of respiratory system
    5. Diseases of digestive system
    6. Diseases of urinary and reproductive systems


  1. Fundamental Skills for the microbiology lab
    1. Hand-Cleansing
    2. Aseptic Technique and Inoculation (including streak plating)
  2. Microbial Growth
    1. Culturing environmental samples
    2. Colony Morphology and Growth Patterns
    3. Aerotolerance
  3. Microscopy
    1. Observations of representative Protozoa
    2. Observations of representative Fungi
  4. Microbial Staining Techniques
    1. Smear preparation
    2. Simple, differential and structural stainings
  5. Selective Media
    1. Media for Isolation of Gram-negative rods
  6. Differential Testing for Microbial Metabolic Activities
    1. Fermentation Tests
    2. Respiratory capability testing
    3. Reduction potential testing
    4. Nutrient utilization testing
    5. Decarboxylation and deamination testing
    6. Hydrolytic enzyme testing
    7. Combination differential media
    8. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing
    9. Additional important biochemical tests
  7. Quantitative Techniques for Enumerating Microbes
    1. Standard plate count
  8. Introduction to Medical Microbiology
    1. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing (Kirby-Bauer Method)
    2. Epidemic Simulation
  9. Microbial Serology
    1. ELISA testing
  10. Identification of bacterial unknown

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Lectures are supplemented by audio-visuals and handouts.  Laboratory exercises include staining methods, culturing and identification techniques used to identify medically important bacteria, standard plate count, immunological diagnostic procedures and observation of representative eukaryotic organisms.

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

May vary depending on instructor, but may include:

  • mandatory attendance during lectures and laboratories
  • active participation in supervised laboratory exercises
  • identification of unknown specimens
  • satisfactory performance in written lecture and laboratory tests

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

  1. Tortora, G., et al., Microbiology An Introduction Twelfth Edition, The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, 2016..
  2. OCC Custom Brief Microbiology Laboratory Theory and Application Lab Manual
  3. Required Course Resource:
    Laboratory Coat: You will be required to purchase a lab coat. The bookstore will stock disposable, impervious lab coats at a cost of less than $3. Please bring your lab coat to the first day of class. Lab coats will be stored in the lab in zip-lock bags for the semester. You may only use the paper lab coats. No cloth lab coats allowed. If you spill biological agents on your coat or the lab coat rips, you will be required to replace the lab coat.  At the end of the semester, your lab coats will be destroyed. You may not keep your paper lab coat.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

May vary depending on instructor, and may include:

  • objective or essay lecture examinations
  • objective or essay laboratory examinations
  • written laboratory reports; case study analysis
  • performance of unknown specimen identification

XI.   Other Course Information

May vary depending on instructor, and may include:

  • group and individual reviews scheduled outside of class time
  • individualized sessions with microbiology tutor
  • careful note taking by students
  • use of study sheets prepared by students prior to lecture and laboratory examinations

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at www.oakton.edu/title9/.

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at www.oakton.edu/lgbtq.

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.