Explore life in all its minute detail in our fascinating microbiology course. Microbes are critical to life, are found everywhere, and influence everything from disease to gut digestion and plant growth. Microbiology is the study of living things, including organisms, algae, fungi, bacteria, viruses and small animals and plants that cannot be seen by the human eye. This course is ideal for farmers, food process workers, horticulturalists, vets or anyone aspiring to become a microbiologist.
The Certificate of Microbiology will help you to develop a broad-based understanding of the science of microbiology. In this microbiology course, you will explore its relationship to farming, agriculture, horticulture, food industries, environment management and human, plant and animal disease. You will also learn about the general classifications and anatomy of microbes and the many practical applications of microbiology to society and human life.
Outcomes achieved by undertaking a microbiology course include:
- Learning about the scope and nature of microbiology
- Gaining an understanding of microorganisms
- Exploring bacteria, fungi, viruses, mites and actinomycetes
- Studying microscopes – light microscopes, helium ion microscopes and electron microscopy
- Gaining insights into the preparation of samples for light microscopy
- Examining laboratory techniques for the diagnosis of plant diseases
- Understanding the preparation of pathogens
- Learning about the types of culture and how to maintain them
- Exploring the types of glassware
- Gaining an understanding of sterilisation, radiation and disinfection
- Studying the autoclave, maintaining cultures and aseptic techniques
- Gaining insights into the pour plate and streak plate methods
- Understanding how to prepare agar plates
- Learning about the factors that affect microbial growth
- Exploring the states of disease development in plants
- Studying the virus replication cycle
- Gaining insights into simple home labs and microbiology labs
- Understanding microbial taxonomy
- Learning about morphology and archaea
- Exploring the types of bacteria and bacterial cell wall structure
- Studying the structure of a prokaryotic cell
- Gaining insights into gram staining and gram-positive and negative organisms
- Examining gram stain reaction protocol
- Understanding acid-fast organisms and protocols
- Learning about bacterial diseases in plants, animals and humans
- Exploring tetanus and the zika virus
- Studying virus structure, reproduction, taxonomy and viral diseases
- Gaining insights into the anatomy of the virion
- Examining the animal viruses and the Baltimore classification
How Are Bacteria Structured?
As you’ll learn in this microbiology course, bacteria have the same structures as normal cells, including a cell wall, cytoplasm, nuclear material and various membranes, such as endoplasmic, mitochondria, a plasma membrane and reticulate. They also have flagella, a “slime layer” and some can have spore formation.
Flagella are outgrowths of cytoplasm that extend through the cell wall. They are appendage-like structures used for movement. The “slime layer” can vary in texture and thickness, and if it is firm and thick enough, it is called a capsule. When clumps or chains of bacteria form, the whole chain or clump can be surrounded by a slime layer and sometimes this layer can become a solid gelatinous mass (known as a zooglea).
Bacteria can either reproduce by splitting or by spore formation, which is regarded as a “resting” stage. Under favourable conditions, the internal protoplasm can form a “knot” and surround itself with a wall. Bacterial spores are generally more resistant to being degraded than other types of organisms. To completely destroy bacterial spores, they may require boiling under pressure, for example, in a pressure cooker.
How Are Bacteria Classified?
Classification of bacteria is based upon:
- Their morphology – the form of the cell
- The absence or presence of flagella
- Their reaction to certain stains
- Their mode of nutrition
There are two broad groups of bacteria:
- Heterotrophs – these cannot make their own food. They are saprophytes that feed off dead things or parasites that feed off living things.
- Autotrophs – these have chlorophyll-like pigments that allow them to make their own food.
How To Communicate Scientifically
Once you’ve studied a microbiology course, it’s then important you know how to communicate scientifically, as science communication is an incredibly rewarding and valuable skill. The more science is talked about to varied and multiple audiences, the more trust, funding, scientific literacy and public support for scientists can be increased. According to the Australian Society for Microbiology, science communication involves educating, sharing and bringing awareness to scientific topics. This includes to government, policymakers and individuals in other fields. Complex scientific concepts should also be communicated in ways that are accessible and understandable to non-technical audiences like the general public. This can be achieved in five ways:
#1 – Know Your Audience
Effective science communication begins with education, and the aim should be to fill in knowledge gaps by presenting current, factual and accurate information. However, science concepts can be complex, so try to choose a single topic and explain it using metaphors and analogies. You should also know who your audience is. Methods of communication to school children, to the general public or to other scientists will be very different, so it’s important you are flexible in your style of presentation.
#2 – Keep It Simple
When communicating to non-technical audiences, messages should be clear and simple and repeated often, and you should avoid using scientific abbreviations and jargon as much as possible. Otherwise, your audience may be confused and switch off or you may be seen as a scientific know-it-all! Get to the point, present one take-home message first and then provide additional explanations in an easy-to-understand way.
#3 – Leverage Social Media
These days, social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube provide new opportunities for scientists to interact with the public and allow for global interactions and discussions. It can include things like sharing journeys into science pathways and highlighting the early work researchers are doing. It can also be used to find new research, build professional networks, and foster communication and new collaborations with other scientists regardless of where they are around the globe.
#4 – Use Visuals
We’ve all heard the saying, “a picture tells a thousand words”, and visuals like illustrations, graphs, videos and animations can help make the data supporting your message clear and accessible and help your audience retain the information for longer. They can also allow science communicators to reach audiences who may not normally be interested in science but are engaged by visual mediums.
#5 – Access Training
When scientists learn better communication skills, they not only convey their research to a broader audience but also become better connected to their own scientific communities. Although formal training for scientific communication is somewhat limited, informal training within a scientific setting can include practice presentations in journal clubs, lab meetings and thesis presentations, university open days, workshops and seminars.
If you undertake a microbiology course, you may also be interested in knowing what types of careers are available for microbiologists. Microbiologists typically work in labs and work with microbiology all day every day! Their work can involve the production of microbiological products and routine laboratory diagnostics through cutting-edge research. Other professions also apply some knowledge of microbiology on a day-to-day basis. These include people who are farmers, horticulturalists and health or vet professionals.
Manage microbes in a variety of situations including in:
- Humans and animals – Encouraging/maintaining beneficial organisms (probiotics) and deterring or killing pathogenic microbes (diseases).
- Soil – Soil health in horticulture and agriculture is dependent upon the presence or balance of certain microbes. These include mycorrhizae and rhizobia in plant tissue that can prevent or deter disease.
- Labs – For example, in scientific research and pathology testing.
- Commerce – For example, in winemaking, brewing, and in the production of mushrooms, bread, medicines and health products.
- Bioremediation – For example, microbes can be used to manage pollution, oil spills and the degrading of organic compounds.
Microbiologists may also have input into areas such as:
- Patent law – Especially in the case of genetically engineered structures and organisms.
- Policy change – An understanding of microbe function and transmission is required in implementing some health policies.
- Humanitarian causes – Ensuring potable water and the testing and implementing of sanitation measures to reduce disease in the developing world.
- Climate change – Using microbes to help reduce pollution.
Develop a solid foundation of how microorganisms impact human life and the world around us with a microbiology course such as our Certificate of Microbiology.