BIOL L250 – Microbiology
Basic Lab Syllabus

Lecture Professor:  Dr. Annette Golonka
Office: Bradley 211
Phone: 803-313-7019

Class Meeting Information: Scheduling varies from semester to semester (please see course listings for exact time & day).
Lab: Meets once a week for 3 hours. You must attend the entire 3 hours, unless we finish early.

Course Requirements & Credit Information: Prerequisite – College-level biology and chemistry; corequisite – Biol 250L.  This course is not available for biology major credit.

I. Required Textbooks: 
Golonka, A.M.  2009-2010.  Laboratory Exercises for BIOL L250L Microbiology.  Biol L250L, Fall Semester.  University of South Carolina-Lancaster, SC.

Cowan and Talaro.  2009.  Microbiology: A Systems Approach.  2nd ed.  McGraw-Hill.  New York, NY.

Blackboard Content: Some laboratory assignments WILL be available on Blackboard for printing.  These assignments will be available on Blackboard within 24 hrs of assigned date.  Hard copies will be handd out during class, but students are responsible for printing any assignments if they miss class.

II. Course Description:  This is an introductory course to microorganisms, including fungi, bacteria, archaebacteria, and viruses.  The course will focus on the structure, metabolism, and pathogenesis of microbes.  Topics covered in the course will include diversity and ecology of microorganisms, the metabolic processes, the differences in eukaryotes, eubacteria, and archaebacteria, the virus infection process, infectious diseases, anti-microbial agents in chemotherapy, and to some extent antigen-antibody relationships. 

III. Learning Outcomes: By the end of the course, the student will be able to:

  1. Explain microbial diversity (both in terms of species diversity and metabolic diversity).
  2. Explain the ecological and pathogenic capabilities of microorganisms.
  3. Compare and contrast eukaryotic versus prokaryotic microogranisms.
  4. Describe briefly the major metabolic pathways microbial organisms may utilize.
  5. Evaluate microbial control methods and assess their effectiveness against different groups of infectious agents.
  6. Apply research skills inlab through library research and written assignments.
  7. Apply the scientific process and knowledge of physiological and morphological procedures learned during lab to help identify an unknown bacterium. Specifically, students will choose and perform tests as well as analyze results.
  8. Demonstrate correct microbiological technique during lab exercises, including aseptic technique, proper handling of cultures, and interpretation of results.
  9. Present and assess data acquired during the unknown experiment in a written report as well as a Powerpoint presentation.

IV. Lab Course Structure

BIOL 250L meets once a week for 3 hours. Labs are often done in groups.

Attendance:  According to the USC Academic Bulletin, “absence from more than 10 percent of the scheduled class sessions, whether excused or unexcused, is excessive and the instructor may choose to exact a grade penalty for such absences.”  Please note that USC makes no distinction between “excused” and “unexcused” absences.  This course meets once a week for a three-hour lab.  Students are expected to attend the lab sections they signed up for at the appointed times.  Being more than 10 minutes late to class or leaving class early will count as an absence.  Thus, if a student misses more than 1 lab, his or her final grade in the lab course will be dropped one letter grade.  Continual tardiness may also result in a drop in a student’s grade.  Switching labs is only acceptable under certain conditions and forewarning to your lab instructor of a missed lab. Students are responsible for any work or assignments missed during absences.  Laboratory experiments CANNOT be made up.  If a quiz is missed during lab or lecture, the student will receive a zero for that quiz.  If homework is turned in a day late or after lab or lecture begins, the final grade on that homework will be dropped one letter grade.

Laboratory exercises: Laboratory discussion and participation is an important part of understanding microbiological techniques and learning about the microorganisms in hands-on experiments that will provide you with marketable skills.  Attendance and cooperation are a part of your laboratory grade (see attendance policy below and your lab safety contract in your lab manual).  The instructor bases this grade on not only your attendance, but also on your laboratory techniques (slides, cultures, etc.) and your cooperation within a group situation.  Because there are opportunistic pathogens used in the laboratory experiments, pay attention to warnings and safety precautions your instructor may give you. 

Students are expected to attend the lab sections they signed up for at the appointed times.  Tardiness of more than 10 minutes will count as an absence.  You are allowed to miss 1 lab before your grade will be affected.  There is no way to make up the hands-on part of the lab.

V. Lab Requirements

Lab Homework:  There will be 4 homework assignments.  Each of the assignments is due at the beginning of class period.  If homework is turned in a day late or after papers have been collected, the final grade on that homework will be dropped one letter.  Written assignments will be based on laboratory material and may include diagrams, flowcharts, tables of results, and questions from either the end of the labs or thought provoking questions.

Quizzes:   Quizzes will be conducted at the beginning of lab session; typically in the first 10 minutes of lab.  If you are tardy, you will only have the remainder of the 10 minutes to finish your quiz (i.e., if you are 5 minutes late, you only have 5 minutes to take the quiz).  If you arrive after the quiz has been turned in, you will receive a 0 for that quiz; no exceptions!

Lab Practical: The lab practical will test your lab skills and your knowledge of microbes.  It will be a hands-on test where you may be asked to perform a test, read a test result, answer questions, or examine microscopic material.

Presentations: There will be 1 presentation based on your unknown work.  You will need to find out information on the ability of your identified organism to cause disease (see future handout and Blackboard).  Presentations will be relatively short, about 8 minutes in length (5 minutes presentation, 3 minute question and answer session with your classmates).

VI. Other Policies

Classroom Behavior : Cell phones, pagers, and other similar devices are to be turned off or placed in silent mode during class; this includes lab and lecture time. Disrespectful and disruptive behavior will NOT be tolerated in lab. Students should act as responsible citizens at all times, in lab, lecture, and otuside the classroom. Students who do not act responsibly will be asked to leave the classroom or lab.

Plagiarism & Cheating:  Please review USCL’s policy on plagiarism and cheating in the Student Handbook.  If a student is caught plagiarizing or cheating, at the minimum the student will receive a 0 on that assignment.  Depending on the degree of plagiarism and/or cheating, the student may receive an F in the course and possibly have to face the USC Lancaster Academic Affairs Committee and possible suspension from the university.

VII. Lab Safety
Students are required to wear a lab coat during lab, at all times, no exception.  Lab coats are to remain in lab during the semester.  Lab coats may be purchased in Lancaster at Walmart (some are available, you may have to search or ask for them) or at the Uniform Shoppe in Lancaster (113 S. Wylie Street).  There may be other options available to you in other cities.  If you cannot purchase a lab coat, a large men’s white button-down long-sleeved shirt is also appropriate.

Eye glasses will be available to check out, are required personal protection in lab, and must remain in lab at all times.  Please wear the glasses at all times while in lab to protect your eyes from culture or media splash.

A safety contract is found in the lab manual and must be signed by the second full week of classes or you will be asked to remove yourself from lab.

Statement for Students with Any Immune System Concerns
Many of the species we use (approximately 50%) are considered either opportunistic pathogens or pathogenic.  This means that, even though they may occur in or on our bodies and are members of our normal microflora, given the right circumstances (e.g., a compromised immune system, a point of entry to the body such as cuts or scrapes, or post-surgery conditions), these microorganisms may abnormally spread, multiply, and cause disease.  A compromised immune system does not just mean HIV, but includes periods when your body is dealing with the common cold, changes in diet, stress, or chemotherapy.  If you have any reason to be concerned about taking this course, please talk with your doctor prior to enrolling in this course and participating in the laboratory procedures.

If you do not have a compromised immune system and are concerned for minor reasons (such as cuts, scrapes, or a cold), be cautious and wear gloves in lab.  No one will fault you for being careful.  Even benign microbes may evolve pathogenicity, so treat all microorganisms as potential pathogens and follow lab safety protocols.

Statement for Students with Any Immune System Concerns: Cell phones, iPods, PDAs, walmans, and any other handheld device are prohibited during lab time and usage may result in a grade drop. If you know you have an important call coming (e.g., due to family emergency), let the microbiology staff know and gie the lab's phone number in case of an emergency. Do you really want potential pathogens on your handheld devide and then near your face?

VIII. Lab Assessment & Grading

Laboratory Grading Scheme:

Grading Scale:



90 – 100% A

70 – 76% C



87 – 89% B+

67 – 69% D+



80 – 86% B

60 – 66% D

Unknown Reports


77 – 79% C+

Below 60% F

Lab Practical




IX. Statement for Students with Disabilities:  Students who have a documented disability and wish to discuss academic accommodations, may contact me or Disability Services.  

Tips & Comments from Previous Students:
“Don’t let one person in the group do all the work (participate)!”

“I suggest that other students in the future ask questions, read, be present for every class and just enjoy learning about your body and the environments.”

BIOL L250L Microbiology
Basic Lab Syllabus

Lab usually starts first full week of classes..



Lab #





Laboratory Check In & Laboratory Safety Contract
Microscope Use and care
Slide Preparation and Simple Stain




Staining Techniques: Gram typing and KOH
Ubiquity Experiment



Staining Techniques: Endospores & Capsules
Ubiquity Experiment concluded
Assignment 1: End of Lab Questions, pp. 46-48



Aseptic Transfer and Isolation of Pure Culture
Bacterial Motility: Stabs
Assignment 1 Due: Lab Questions



Bacterial Motility
Effects of Environment on Growth
Selective and Differential Media



Enumeration of Microorganisms
Selective and Differential Media (finish + Demo 10B)
Effects of Environment on Growth Concluded
Assignment 2: Enumeration & Coliform Questions



Bacterial Metabolism – Enzyme Assays
Bacterial Metabolism – Pathways
Enumeration of Microorganisms concluded
Assignment 2 Due: Enumeration & Coliform Qs



Bacterial Metabolism – Enzymes (Demo 13D & I)
Bacterial Metabolism – Pathways (Demo 14B)
Developing and Using a Diagnostic Key
Assignment 3: Dichotomous Key Using Trait Tables



Microbial Death: Disinfection and Antisepsis
Death of Kitchen Bacteria
Identification of Unknown Bacteria – Gram Staining, microscopic and culture characteristics, set up 2 tests based on Gram stain
Assignment 3 Due: Dichotomous Key




Simulated Epidemic
Antibiotic Sensitivity
Microbial Death concluded
Death of Kitchen Bacteria concluded
Unknown – Set up 2 more tests



Clinical Microbiology (swabbed in lecture on Tuesday)
Finish Up Unknowns – Set up tests (if needed)
Antibiotic Sensitivity concluded
Simulated epidemic concluded
Lab Practical Review (optional)






Unknown Presentations
Assignment 4 Due: Unknowns Report
Cleanup Lab


This page last updated June 21, 2013 .