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1-11 Summary

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Microbiology is the study of organisms that at some point in their life exist as single cells and contain a nucleic acid genome that can replicate. Many organisms fall into this definition including algae, fungi, protozoa, bacteria and archaea. Together these organisms have a profound impact on the biosphere, making up the majority of life both in number and total mass. Microbes cause many illnesses, and understanding these infections has led to cures and better treatments. The emergence of new infectious agents will spur continued interest in microbiology. Many more microbes grow harmlessly in the environment, taking advantage of chemicals and/or sunlight to grow. Research into these microbes has also helped us understand the basic framework of life and revealed the basic fundamental rules that govern living systems. In the past, microbes have been used in experiments to answer many scientific questions, and they will continue to serve as excellent tools of inquiry in the future. A significant number of these discoveries have led to important applications in many areas of human endeavor.

Microbiology is a fluid science

Microbiology is constantly changing. Most of what we will discuss consists of well-established principles, and it would be astounding if these changed. However, we have tried to keep this book on the cutting edge of the science of small things as possible. When you live this close to the edge, you are bound to get some cuts, and some of what you read here today, could change when more is known later. Keep that in mind.

If you enjoyed this free chapter on the the relevance and history of microbiology, consider buying the book, for only $30.

Quickcheck 1-10

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1. One environment that Thonis Philipszoon explored with his microscope was

  1. hot springs at Bernek Thool
  2. clothing dyes
  3. the inland lake at Berkelse Mere
  4. rat feces

2. Which of the following would not support the growth of microbes.

  1. Blood agar
  2. Phosphate buffer
  3. Potato slices
  4. Beef broth
  5. Both b and c

3. Media must be sterilized to

  1. kill any inhabiting microorganisms.
  2. condition the nutrients so that microbes can use them.
  3. Remove toxins that may interfere with microbial growth
  4. media does not need to be sterilized in most cases.
  5. none of the above

4. The Gram stain

  1. is a method of weighing bacteria
  2. differentiates microbes based upon their cell wall structures
  3. is a differential stain
  4. is a method for visualizing endospores
  5. both b and c

5. An emerging disease has been found that causes UW-Madison students to root for the Vikings instead of the Packer. We will call the illness VK crazy. Considering the seriousness of this situation, it is no surprise that a cure is urgently needed. Tests are needed to verity the cause of the illness. From other evidence, you suspect that the microbe is living in the mouth of the affected individuals. To begin to determine what microbe was causing the illness I would...

  1. infect test subjects with sputum.
  2. examine the sputum in the microscope and look for microbes.
  3. grow the sputum on a flask of beef broth.
  4. disinfect people who are infected with Barcardi 151

6. You find three unusual microbes associated with VK crazy patients. What is your next step..

  1. Streak the sputum for isolated colonies to isolate the microbes
  2. grow the sputum in a flask of beef broth
  3. infect test subjects with sputum
  4. try to find antibiotics to which the microbes are susceptible.

7. Each of the microbes has now been isolated in pure culture. You then test the each microbe on volunteers and infection with microbe #1 causes the symptoms of VK crazy. What final step must you do to verity that VK crazy is causing this illness?

  1. show that a neurotoxin is affecting their brains.
  2. find a method to kill isolate #1.
  3. cure the sick patients of the illness.
  4. re-isolate the microbe from the sick individuals

8. The last few experiments are an example of

  1. Pasteur's postulates.
  2. Koch's postulates.
  3. Leeuwenhoek's postulates.
  4. Euclid's postulates.

9. Pasteur's investigations of wine and Lister's experiments on milk helped them to

  1. invent wine and yogurt fermentations
  2. develop culture media for the growth of microbes.
  3. develop the germ theory of disease.
  4. discover treatments for the prevention of illness

10. Jelly was important in microbiology because

  1. it is a extremely useful culture medium.
  2. Angelina Fannie Hesse was Robert Koch's cook and introduced gelatin as a solidifying agent for media.
  3. Angelina Fannie Hesse, encouraged her husband Walter, and together they developed a selective agent found in grapes.
  4. Angelina Fannie Hesse and Walter developed the use of agar in culture media.

11. Spontaneous generation was

  1. the belief that there is a vital force in the world that can cause inanimate objects to come to life.
  2. the belief that microbes could replicate themselves.
  3. the belief that all life forms have a vital force that allows them to continue their existence.
  4. the theory that living things replicate their hereditary information.

12. Jenner's experiment is not as controversial as it first appeared because

  1. he was very sure the experiment would work
  2. inoculating children with small pox was a common method of generating immunity to the illness.
  3. children often died from small pox, so what's one more?
  4. it was his child he experimented on.

13. Pasteur built on Jenner's work by

  1. proving that spontaneous generation was false
  2. developing the germ theory of disease.
  3. developing techniques to isolate small pox.
  4. through his work with chicken cholera.

14. Pick a historical event in microbiology that you think was the most significant. justify your answer.

15. List four ways that microbes are relevant to your life. What do you think is the most important impact microbes have on you.

16. Pick a microbiologist that was important in microbiology. Explain why this individual was important and explain their contribution.

17. Think of an example of a seemingly trivial discovery that turned out to have a major impact on human society. What does this tell you about basic research?