Course CodeBSC209
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Microbiology Course

Microbiology is an increasingly important area of science; not only because of its obvious significance to human health, but also its significance to environmental management, veterinary care, farming and horticulture.

Anyone who has an interest in horticulture can benefit from a deeper understanding of microbiology.

Microorganisms are critical to so much of what happens in our gardens and on our farms. Microbes help plants absorb nutrients, they enrich our soils, they enable us to make compost and they help us clean up toxins that would otherwise build up in the environment.

This course will help you to better manage soils, plant growth, pests and diseases and much more. After studying microbiology, your perspective of what is going on in your garden or farm will change forever -and for the better.


    Lesson Structure

    There are 8 lessons in this course:

    1. Scope and Nature of Microbiology
      • Why study microorganisms
      • Bacteria
      • Actinomycetes
      • Fungi
      • Viruses
      • Other multicellular microscopic organisms - nematodes, mites
    2. Microscopes
      • Types - light, electron and helium ion microscopes
      • Types of light microscope - stereoscope, compound microscope, confocal microscope
      • Electron microscopy - scanning election microscope, transmission electron microscope
      • Helium ion microscope
      • Preparing samples for microscopy
      • Case study - diagnosis of plant disease
      • Selecting pathogen for verification
      • Preparation of pathogens
      • Culture methods and isolation techniques
      • Inoculation
    3. Cultures
      • Types of culture - pure, mixed, contaminated
      • Types of glassware
      • Sterilisation
      • Autoclaves
      • Arnold steam sterilisation
      • Dry heat sterilisation
      • Disinfection
      • Filtration sterilisation
      • Low temperature sterilisation
      • Radiation
      • What is used in media
      • Types of media - synthetic, complex, enrichment, selective, differential etc
      • Common examples - MacConkey's agar, Mannitol salt agar
      • Preparing agar plates
      • Streak plate method
      • Pour plate method
      • Staining
      • Maintaining cultures
      • Aseptic technique
      • Preserved cultures
      • Factors affecting microbial growth -pH, temperature, oxygen, moisture, pressure, vitamins, radiation, carbon, nitrogen, etc
      • Stages in development of a plant disease
      • Virus replication cycle
      • The microbiology laboratory
      • Setting up a simple home laboratory
      • Starting out
    4. Microbial Taxonomy
      • What is taxonomy - varying opinions
      • Morphology
      • Prokaryotes and eukaryotes
      • Bacteria - Eubacteriales, Pseudomonadales, Clamidobacteriales, Spirochaetales, etc
      • Archaea - Crenarchaeota, Euryarchaeota, Korarchaeota
      • Viruses - ICTV, Baltimore classification
      • Fungi -Oomycotes, Zygomycota, Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, Deuteromycota
      • Others - Helminths,Arthropods
      • Good and bad microorganisms
      • Good things that microorganisms do
      • Bacteria
    5. Viruses
      • Virus structure
      • Anatomy of a virion - nucleic acids, capsid, capsomeres, envelopes
      • The infected cell
      • Virus reproduction
      • The infectious cycle
      • Attachment
      • Penetration
      • Un-coating
      • Replication
      • Assembly
      • Release
      • Virus taxonomy
      • Animal viruses
      • Prototype classification
      • Viral diseases
      • Crystallisation of viruses
      • Transmission - body fluid, vector
      • Viral diseases in humans
      • Control and treatments - vaccines, drugs, hygiene
      • Case Study - human swine flu
      • Viral disease in plants - including different specific examples
      • Viral diseases in animals - including different specific examples
    6. Other Microbes
      • Fungus biology
      • Case study - candida
      • Protists
      • Plant like protists - Euglenophytes, Chrysophytes, Diatoms, Dinoflagellates
      • Fungus like protists
      • Animal like protists -Amoeba (pseudopods), Flagellates, Ciliates, Sporozoa
      • Helminths
    7. Immunology
      • Types of immunity - Acquired Immunity, Active Immunity, Passive Immunity
      • Antitoxins
      • Agglutinins
      • Precipitans
      • Antigens
      • Antibodies
      • Titre
      • Antiserum
      • Immunisation -Sub-unit vaccines, Inactivated vaccines, Live, attenuated vaccines, Toxoid vaccines, Conjugate vaccines
      • General immune response
      • Recognition of self or non self
      • Specificity
      • Heterogeneity
      • Memory
      • Herd immunity
      • Immunological disorders
      • Autoimmune disease
    8. Applied Applications
      • Agriculture and horticulture applications
      • Mycorrhizae -Ectomycorrhizae, Endomycorrhizae, Ectendomycorrhiza
      • Soil biological management
      • Nitrogen cycle - Ammonification,Nitrification, Denitrification, Nitrogen Fixation, Immobilisation
      • Improving soil biology
      • Rhizobium Bacteria and Soil Fertility
      • The Rhizobium Bacteria
      • Microbiology and Plant Pathology
      • How Bacteria, Fungi and other Microorganisms Infect Plants
      • Life Cycle of Nematodes
      • Fungi
      • The Role of Insects in the Spread of Disease
      • Food Technology Applications
      • Food microbiology - yeast, algae
      • Microbes - food spoilage factors pH, water, oxygen, food structure
      • Reducing food spoilage
      • Environmental Applications
      • Water disposal
      • Environmental cleanup
      • Reducing greenhouse gases
      • Biological pesticides
      • Water analysis
      • Industrial Microbiology - production, mining
      • Pharmaceuticals
      • Drug therapies
      • Antibiotics, vaccines
      • Obtaining steroids from microorganisms
      • Microbes in Humans
      • Hospital acquired infections
      • Infection control
      • MRSAs
      • Virology
      • Animal/Human interactions -zoonoses
      • Microbiological health management in animals


    This course can be a first step toward becoming a microbiologist. It may also be a step toward being a better farmer, food processor, health or veterinary professional or horticulturist.

    Microbes need to be managed in a variety of situations including:

    • Human and animal body - deterring or killing pathogenic microbes (diseases), encouraging/maintaining beneficial organisms (probiotics).
    • Soil – soil health in agriculture and horticulture is dependent upon balance/presence of certain microbes - e.g. mycorrhizae and rhizobia. In plant tissue to prevent or deter disease.
    • Scientific research/laboratory and pathology testing.
    • Commerce - e.g. brewing, wine making, mushroom production; production of medicines/health products, bread etc.
    • Bio remediation e.g. microbes used to manage oil spills, pollution, degrading of organic compounds etc.