Microbial Genetics

Level: Bachelor or Advanced level
Course code: Bachelor 1BG201, Advanced 1BG389
Credits: 15 hp
More info: Course syllabus
Student portal: Schedule and course material

Bacteria and other microbes are important as agents of infection, as vectors in biotechnology, and as THE major life form on this planet. The course in Microbial Genetics has three aims: (i) to give you a theoretical understanding of microbial genetics; (ii) to teach you how to do genetics research in practice; (iii) to encourage you to think logically when analyzing and solving scientific problems in genetics. Even if you have no intention of continuing in microbial research this course should be very useful because it will teach you the value of the scientific method: establishing facts through observation and strictly controlled experiments, generating testable and falsifiable hypotheses, drawing conclusions that are supported by the evidence.

First you will be introduced to the essentials of microbial genetics – the theory part of the course. The focus will be on the two best studied bacteria, Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica, but examples from other bacteria and microorganisms will also be introduced. The topics covered will include the central dogma (DNA replication, RNA transcription, Protein synthesis), the mechanisms used to control and regulate gene expression, mechanisms for the preservation, mutation, and exchange of genetic information between organisms, including plasmid and bacteriophage genetics.

Second you will be introduced to a logical and scientific way of thinking and solving problems – the practical part of the course. We will examine the power of genetics to explore complex biological problems, to set up testable hypotheses, and to design practical experiments. This part of the course will have lectures on important methods and techniques in genetics, including the latest techniques currently used to manipulate and analyse bacterial genes and genomes, and a series of problem solving classes.

There will be labs in both parts of the course. These will introduce you to strain construction, selection and screening for mutants, and DNA sequence analysis in the computer lab.

An important part of the lab work (communication training) will be learning how to keep a good lab notebook. The main theme of the labs will be the analysis of antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

The course book will be: Molecular Genetics of Bacteria, by Snyder & Champness, Third Edition, ASM Press.

For more information, please contact:
Leif Kirsebom (leif.kirsebom@icm.uu.se)