School of Biomedical, Biomolecular and Chemical Sciences

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School of Biomedical, Biomolecular and Chemical Sciences

Unit Outine

General Microbiology


Semester: One

Campus: QEII Medical Centre

Unit Coordinator: Professor Geoff Shellam

This outline is the currently available version for this unit. Detailed Information on unit content and assessment may undergo modification before the time of delivery of the unit. For the most up to date information students must consult material supplied to enrolled students by the unit co-ordinator.

All material reproduced herein has been copied in accordance with and pursuant to a statutory licence administered by Copyright Agency Limited (CAL), granted to the University of Western Australia pursuant to Part VB of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).

Copying of this material by students, except for fair dealing purposes under the Copyright Act, is prohibited. For the purposes of this fair dealing exception, students should be aware that the rule allowing copying, for fair dealing purposes, of 10% of the work, or one chapter/article, applies to the original work from which the excerpt in this course material was taken, and not to the course material itself

© The University of Western Australia 2001


General Microbiology 301 is a first semester core unit which is usually undertaken for a Major in Microbiology. This unit is divided into three segments, each of which deals with a key area of modern microbiology at an advanced level. Students will be expected to gain a good understanding of (1) Bacterial Physiology and Genetics (BPG) including bacterial growth and replication, cell envelope structure and function, transfer and modification of bacterial genetic information; (2) Immunology (I) with emphasis on the cells and molecules associated with immune recognition, the different types of immune responses and inflammation; and (3) Virology (V) including viral replication, structure and diversity, and an introduction to viral pathogenesis. The aim of this course is, therefore, to provide a broad experience of microbiology at an advanced level suitable for further studies and for employment. The unit will consist of 3 lectures and 8 hours of laboratory work per week, and the practical component will consist of experiments designed to illustrate and complement the lectures in all three areas. Students will gain experience and skills in modern microbiological techniques. This unit builds on the Discipline’s second year units such as M203, M204 and M205.

Broad learning outcomes


Assessment Activity

Students will be able to recall and integrate key knowledge and concepts about:

  • The structure and function of the immune system

  • The characteristics of viruses and the features of viruses with RNA or DNA genomes which are human pathogens.

  • The mode of replication of RNA and DNA viruses and how viruses cause disease.

  • The features of the cell envelope of bacteria, the production of spores and bacterial replication.

  • The effect of environmental factors on bacteria.

  • The principles of bacterial genetics including transformation, transduction and conjugation.

Multiple choice question exam.

Theory exam.

Students will acquire skills in:

  • Methods and techniques used in advanced microbiology (immunology, virology, bacterial physiology and genetics)

  • Use of instrumentation including laminar flow hoods, ELISA plate readers, flow cytometer, thermocyclers for PCR.

  • The acquisition of data and the recording, analysis and interpretation of data.

  • Techniques of scientific writing.

  • Working collaboratively in a small group.

  • Oral communication.

Laboratory report.

Multiple choice question exam.

Advisable prior study

It is essential that students have passed the second year pre-requisite subjects. These are:

950.204 Introductory Microbiology 204 (renamed MICR2204 Introductory Microbiology) and 950.205 General and Applied Microbiology 205 (renamed MICR2205 General and Applied Microbiology)

or 950.200 Introductory Microbiology 200 (taken before 2003)

Advisable prior study:

950.206 Epidemiology and Infection 206 (renamed MICR2206 Epidemiology and Infection) and/or 950.203 Introductory Immunology 203 (renamed MICR2203 Introductory Immunology), 139.225 Molecular Biology 225 (renamed SCIE2225 Molecular Biology).

Technical Requirements

Calculator: You should have a multi-function pocket calculator available for use in the laboratory. It should have the means for determining the log of a number.

Safety Precautions

You must adhere to the safety requirements for working in undergraduate laboratories. These requirements are described in your laboratory manuals and they include the wearing of footwear with closed uppers. Bare feet, open sandals or thongs are not acceptable in the Microbiology laboratory.

Software Requirements

Students are required to arrange their own access to word processing, spreadsheet and visual presentation software. Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint are recommended: instructions and templates contained in course materials or developed will assume that this is the software employed.

Students are also expected to have access to the internet and ability to download large files (lecture notes, tutorial notes etc.) and to access PDF files (Acrobat Reader software is necessary).

Contact details

Unit web site (may include Web CT URL):

Name of Unit coordinator: Professor Geoff Shellam


Phone: 9346 2050

Fax: 9346 2912

Consultation hours: By appointment, Monday to Wednesday only.

Unit structure summary


Lectures will be held in the Mary Lockett Lecture Theatre. Unless otherwise notified, lecture times will be as follows:

Monday 12:00 noon - 12:45 pm

Tuesday 9.00 am - 9.45 am

Tuesday 4.00 pm - 4.45 pm

Practical and/or laboratory sessions

Pre-lab talks will be given at the start of each practical in Room G22, unless otherwise advised. Practicals will be held in Room G22.

Tuesday 10:00 am - 12.45 pm and

2:00 pm - 3:45 pm

Wednesday 9.00 am - 11.45 am


For details of times and venues of all teaching sessions please consult the most recent version of the university timetable at

A detailed timetable will also be provided at the beginning of the semester.

Lecture Topics


Introduction to the immune system.


Cells and tissues involved in the immune response.


The lymphoid system


Cell migration and inflammation.




Antibodies and the Generation of Diversity


T Cell receptor and major histocompatibility molecules


Dendritic cells and macrophages


Antigen presentation and cytokines


Cell co-operation in the antibody response.


Cell mediated immunity


Structure, chemistry and history of viruses


Virus cultivation, detection and genetics


Viral taxonomy, prions and unconventional agents


Viral Families – RNA viruses


Viral Families – DNA viruses


Attachment & penetration of viruses


Replication of RNA viruses


Replication of RNA viruses with a DNA intermediate and vice versa


Replication of DNA viruses


Assembly and release of viruses


Introduction to viral pathogenesis


The Bacterial Cell Envelope: I The Plasma Membrane


The Bacterial Cell Envelope: II The Cell Wall


The Bacterial Cell Envelope: III The Outer Membrane


Spores, sporulation and germination


Flagella, motility and chemotaxis


Cell growth-DNA replication and cell division


Growth characteristics of bacterial populations


Effect of environmental factors on bacteria


Bacterial physiology in extreme habitats


Mutations and mutants


Homologous recombination






Conjugation, Hfr


R factors, epidemiology, incompatibility and resistance mechanisms


F factor

References, resources and reading materials

Preliminary Reading

Prescott, L.M., Harley, J.P. and Klein, D.A. Microbiology, 4th/5th ed: WCB/McGraw-Hill, 1999/2002.

Malacinski, G.M. and Freifelder, D. Essentials of Molecular Biology, 3rd ed: Jones and Bartlett, 1998.

Text Book


Roitt, I., Brostoff, J. and Male, D. Immunology, 6th ed: Mosby – Year Book Europe, 2001.

Reference Books


Davis, B.D. and others, Microbiology: Lippincott, 1990.


Koneman, E.W. The Other End of the Microscope: The Bacteria Tell Their Own Story: A Fantasy: ASM Press, 2002.

Lengeler, J.W. and others, Biology of the Prokaryotes: Blackwell Science, 1999.

Neidhardt, F.C. and others, Physiology of the Bacterial Cell: A Molecular Approach: Sinauer Assoc. Inc., 1990.

Birge, E.A. Bacterial and Bacteriophage Genetics, 4th ed: Springer Verlag N.Y. Inc., 1999.

Joset, F. and Guespin-Michel, J. Prokaryotic Genetics: Blackwell Sci. Publ., 1993.

Snyder, L. and Champness. W. Molecular Genetics of Bacteria: ASM Washington DC, 1997.


Abbas, A.K. and Lichtman, A.H. Basic Immunology: W.B. Saunders Co., 2001.


Dimmock, J.N. and Primrose, S.B. Introduction to Modern Virology, 4th Ed: Academic Press, 1994.

Fields, B.N. and others, Fields Virology, 4th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2001.

Flint, S.J. and others, Principles of Virology: ASM Press, 2003.

White, D.O. and Fenner, F.J. Medical Virology, 4th ed: Academic Press, 1994.

Unit web site

All enrolled students have access to the unit WebCT site ( This site will be used for notices, posting of supplementary course materials, email and discussion. It is strongly recommended that you log onto this site on a daily basis. The website should be used for all remote communication to the unit co-ordinator. Students are encouraged to pose questions about course content on the discussion forum of the site so that all class members can view and contribute to the discussion. The Co-ordinator is available to meet students by appointment on Mondays to Wednesdays.

Assessment Details

Assessed Work

% mark


Final examination - All lectures


3 hrs - Exam period

Class MCQ test #1


45 min. Lectures 1-15 and Immunology & Generic Skills Laboratories – Week 6

Class MCQ test #2


45 min. Lectures 16-31 and Virology & Bact. Physiology Laboratories – Week 12

Laboratory report


Bacterial Physiology* – Week 12

*A laboratory report is to be submitted at the end of week 12 of the Semester, on a designated experiment undertaken in Bacterial Physiology. It is expected that the report will be typed and presented in the format outlined in the practical manuals. The MCQ exams will be held at a time and place to be advised.


The University of Western Australia takes very seriously the matter of academic misconduct by students and has policies in place that define misconduct (including plagiarism) and the penalties that apply. The consequences for misconduct can be severe, including exclusion from the university.

All students are expected to make themselves aware of the definitions and policies relating to academic misconduct, found at the websites below, and with any additional requirements or stipulations that may be provided by individual unit co-ordinators.

When you obtain authority to log in to the unit website, you will se an online module on academic conduct which you are strongly advised to complete in your own time.


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