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What is microbiology?  Microbiology is the study of living organisms too small to be seen with the naked eye  - a diverse group of microscopic organisms ranging from viruses and bacteria to protozoa and fungi. Microbes can be useful, such as those that decompose dead plant and animal matter or those that can be harnessed to produce antibiotics or foods like cheese, bread and yogurt.  Microbes can also be harmful, such as those that cause disease, spoilage, or contaminate water supplies.  Microbes  can live in almost any environment, from Antarctica to the very hot, very acidic springs of Yellowstone.  Some microbes are key to the cycling of crucial nutrients like carbon and nitrogen in their environment.  The study of microbiology is important to a number of fields including medicine, food science, agriculture and biotechnology.

General microbiology is a broad field which looks at the basics of microbial structure, physiology, growth and diversity. Microbes come in a range of shapes and sizes as can seen by checking out some of the image links below.  Links to some exercises including nucleic acid problem sets.  Also included are links to a number of introductory microbiology lecture courses and other cool sites.
This site connects to the Digital learning center, and contains contains links to the  Microbial Zoo, Microbes in the news, Meet the Scientists, Resources, etc.


Lecture notes:  Introductory Microbiology courses
Learn about the Central Dogma.  The first URL is a nice overview of how cells regulate the production of proteins.  The second URL links to a page showing an animated version of "the dog."  Requires a download of "Shockwave" software.  Not tough to do.  Just follow the instructions.
Check out this superb page by the 1998 ASM Carski Award winner for outstanding teaching in mictrobiology.   Complete course materials for a introductory microbiology course, study guides, sample questions, old exams, images, suggested readings -- It's all in there!
A nice Introductory Microbiology  lecture note set with many cool graphics!! 

Brush up on the Central Dogma and then test your knowledge with these problem sets on nucleic acid chemistry – structure – function and more.  A great review of the historically significant experiments.  If you get an answer wrong, an autotutorial sets you straight.  Lesson plans for a number of different exercises, developed at the Summer Institute for Teachers at Beloit College, Wisconsin. 

Microbial Diversity
(Tree of Life)

Phylogeny is the study of evolutionary relationships.  Unlike plants and animals, most microbes don't have many distinguishing phenotypic characteristics so their phylogeny is typically based on sequence information of a conserved molecule.  One of the most commonly used molecules is the small subunit ribosomal RNA - 16S rRNA for the prokaryotes and 18S rRNA for the eukaryotes.  Below is a phylogenetic tree showing the hypothesized evolutionary relationship for the 3 domains: the Eukarya, and the two prokaryotic domains, the Archaea and Bacteria.  Clicking on any of the domains on the tree will take you to phylogenetic subtrees showing the kingdoms and divisions found in each of these domains.  Some of the groups are linked to images allowing you to see what these organisms look like.

(More intro-diversity)

Images of Microbes
A protist image database.  Cool pictures of some neat microbes with extensive descriptions of each to guide the viewer.
An animated introduction to cell division.
Compare the sizes of viruses, bacteria, blood cells and more.
An animated introduction to bacterial motility.
Over 100 images of cyanobacteria (photosynthetic procaryotes).

Microbiology Video Library.

Other cool links
Behold the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) homepage!  The largest single scientific society in the world has links to almost everything.  Search ASM journals for information on your research topic.  Locate other ASM members. Join ASM online.   The "Dictionary and Glossary" links are awesome.

Note: You may wish to start with the "Site Map" as the site is so large that navigational tools are a must.
The "Microbial Underground's  links to everything.  Are there bacteria on Mars?  Are there prions in your burger?  The Microbial Weird and Wonderful lives here.  An excellent site.

The  This site contains a number of links to sites pertaining to many aspects of microbiology.



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Click here to email comments to Scott Cooper regarding this site or its links.