Laboratory Exercises in Microbiology: Discovering the Unseen World Through Hands-On Investigation
Susan McLaughlin, Queensborough Community College
Joan Petersen, Queensborough Community College
Copyright Year: 2016
Publisher: CUNY Academic Works
Conditions of Use
This lab manual includes all the standard introductory microbiology lab topics in detail, with ample information on theory and technique. It does not provide an index or glossary, but terms are clearly defined within the text. Useful appendices... read more
This lab manual includes all the standard introductory microbiology lab topics in detail, with ample information on theory and technique. It does not provide an index or glossary, but terms are clearly defined within the text. Useful appendices include information on the lab assignments used by the authors and tutorials on scientific notation, serial dilution, and micropipetting. I would suggest including a discussion of BSLs, indicating the BSL of each species used, and adding more safety warnings related to the throat culture activity.
The content is accurate and unbiased.
The labs are highly relevant and include not only classic methods like the Gram stain but also more recent techniques like ELISA and Biolog. A few taxonomic details are not up to date: “Kingdom Protista”, “blue-green algae”.
The manual is clearly written, with excellent concise explanations of the theory behind the techniques and step-by-step directions for the techniques themselves. Terms are introduced in bold and well-defined. Diagrams clearly illustrate procedures.
The format is very consistent, with objectives and key terms given at the beginning of each lab, background information and instructions for the hands-on components, and good questions for review at the end of each lab.
As expected for a lab manual, there is a progression from lab to lab. In some cases, it would be simple to change the order of the labs, but in many cases students need to learn one technique before they can progress (e.g., microscopy before staining) and some labs require a specific order to be completed as written (e.g., using metabolic test results from one lab to construct a dichotomous key in the next lab).
The authors made good choices in terms of a logical progression of topics and techniques.
Errors are few and minor: inconsistency in the capitalization of words in section headings and the word “Gram”, a typo on page 145 (“They live humid areas…”).
The text is completely inoffensive.
This is a clearly-written and well-organized manual that provides a good variety of labs for introductory microbiology. In addition to guiding students through the basics, the authors have done an excellent job highlighting the applications of the theory and techniques in health care and food safety.
The lab manual does a very good job going over most of the introductory microbiology procedures. It gives detailed and clear step-by-step instructions. Each lab exercise begins with a list of objectives, has a section where students can jot down... read more
The lab manual does a very good job going over most of the introductory microbiology procedures. It gives detailed and clear step-by-step instructions. Each lab exercise begins with a list of objectives, has a section where students can jot down their results and has review questions at the end, which I like. The appendices are also extremely helpful, highlighting fundamental techniques and practices. Some pictorial guides are included, but I would say more pictures are needed to depict even the smallest of things like how to properly hold a loop. That was the main difference I noted between this open resource lab manual and any other lab manual. Overall the lab manual is very good.
Overall very good. I noticed a couple of discrepancies - ie. on p. 35 stating that peptidoglycan is a carbohydrate.
As previously mentioned, the lab manual does a great job covering all the basic techniques one would find in a microbiology lab. These techniques are tried and true and will likely never change. However, DNA technology has opened up the doors to microbiology in a way that none of these techniques could ever do and the lab manual failed to address these new techniques.
It was very clear and key vocabulary words were very well explained. The addition of a glossary might be beneficial.
The lab manual is very consistent. Each lab exercise followed the same general layout/framework. Labs are presented in a logical way. Between the labs themselves, there weren't any contradictions. My only issue here is that I think that pictures displaying someone holding a bacteria plate or slide (p. 52, p 118, etc) should abide by the protocols stated in the lab manual (p. 42) that states the gloves should be worn.
The text can be used in its entirety or an instructor could easily pick and choose with exercises to carry out with the class. The lab manual is very easy to reorganize and realign it with course curriculums.
The placement of certain labs could be rearranged. For example, although correct to bring up and define selective media in the Growth Media Lab Exercise it might be best to include the MSA or EMB procedures in the Lab Exercises that go over Metabolic Activity (Lab exercise 5) that way students understand fermentation and can see how these selective media can also be differential. However, that being said an instructor could choose to carry out multiple lab exercises during the same week, keeping everything relatively consistent.
I did not encounter any problems.
Very good, there weren't any significant grammatical errors. I only noticed one on p 66, the word "and" is italicized and should not be,
The textbook is a lab manual and is not culturally offensive or insensitive in any way.
Overall it is an exemplary lab manual for basic concepts of microbiology lab techniques. Safety should be highlighted more at the beginning of each Lab Exercise (maybe explain Biosafety Levels at the very beginning of the lab manual and at the start of each lab exercise state which BSL each bacteria they suggest to use is). The addition of more pictures to the textbook to illustrate the results or even the procedures of the lab exercises will also be helpful. Adding a few labs centered around DNA technology would increase the relevancy of the lab manual.
This book is an excellent lab manual for the undergraduates majoring in Biology or the health-related subjects. It covers almost all of the basic concepts, lab exercises, hand-on activities in Microbiology. However, it didn't provide enough... read more
This book is an excellent lab manual for the undergraduates majoring in Biology or the health-related subjects. It covers almost all of the basic concepts, lab exercises, hand-on activities in Microbiology. However, it didn't provide enough pictures/photographs or flow charts to illuminate some of the key experiments, such as bacterial staining.
Regard to the accuracy, the authors did an excellent job with this book. I only found one area in the picture that needs to be addressed, e.g., on page 35, there is too much liquid broth in the culture tubes, which will mislead the students.
Most of the lab exercises described in this book are classic microbiology experiments and timeless. With technology develops, some new reagents, tools, or kits need to incorporate in the traditional lab exercises, such as 1) using Plating Beads to spread bacterial on the agar plates; 2) introduce the commercial kits for ELISA. We need to teach the students traditional ways to understand the mechanisms behind each step, but we also need to update the students with the latest techniques and skills. After all, the new skills/technologies are the ones they are going to use in real life.
The content included in the book is written very clearly. Even though the book doesn't include a glossary, the key terms and definitions are included throughout the manual.
Each lab exercises compose very similar portions: objectives, the definition of the critical terms, procedures, and review questions, which make it very easy for the students and the instructors to follow.
Each lab exercise described in this book is stand-alone and relatively independent of each other. The instructors can easily pick some of the labs, if not all of them, and incorporate them into their courses.
The topics covered in this book are arranged in an evident and logical way, from the introduction of Microbiology ( Microscopy, aseptic techniques, growth and straining of bacterial ) to the application of Microbiology (control of bacterial growth, clinical microbiology and case studies).
I have no problem opening and reading the download PDF file. I like the images which were drawn by the author manually with Microsoft, but they also can be replaced by the real photographs. And the latter is more visible and professional.
I didn't find any significant grammatical or spelling errors.
This book is a scientific lab manual, and it is not culturally insensitive in any way to a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. It can be used worldwide.
The only thing I would say here is to add more pictures/photographs to the textbook to illustrate the procedures or the results of the lab exercises.
This book covers a nice spectrum of laboratory exercises which can be accomplished by students taking their first microbiology course. While there is not a glossary, the authors do include key terms in bold at the start of each exercise and then... read more
This book covers a nice spectrum of laboratory exercises which can be accomplished by students taking their first microbiology course. While there is not a glossary, the authors do include key terms in bold at the start of each exercise and then bold those same terms in the text of that lab. There are also several appendices contain a LOT of helpful information…both for students in this particular instructor’s class and just general information which can be applied to other classes.
The lab manual, overall, is very good with regard to accuracy. I noticed a few errors (e.g. peptidoglycan isn't strictly a carbohydrate, a reference on page 87 to "...killing all forms of life, including viruses and spores"). Viruses are not alive; they are either active or inactive.
This laboratory manual covers classical methods in microbiology which are unlikely to change very much over the years. ELISA and Biolog techniques are included, and these can be updated as needed or as other modern methods become more mainstream in undergraduate microbiology labs.
Many definitions are included throughout the manual.
There does not seem to be any change in writing style. Each laboratory experiment follows a set layout of structure (e.g.Objectives, Key Terms, Introduction, etc.) This makes it easy to find a section of an experiment.
By its very nature, a lab manual would meet this requirement. I would imagine that anyone wishing to adopt this OER for use in a microbiology laboratory could also use some of the experiments (e.g. modules) but not all, if they so desired. If they do wish to use all of them, the students would be exposed to a comprehensive set of techniques.
As mentioned above, the layout and modularity makes a lot of sense. Within some laboratories, it might be good to further subdivide them into separate modules for clarity's sake. For instance, Exercise 7 covers the effect of physical factors on microbial growth. It might be better to organize the different factors by listing the procedure immediately after the description of that factor. There is a lot of good information given, but by the time a reader gets to the procedure, they may have forgotten about the first factor mentioned.
Everything showed very well on my laptop with the PDF.
One very minor issue--the author toggles between Gram and gram when talking about the stain. Both are often used. I would recommend picking either capitalized or not and being consistent.
Did not see any issues with cultural references in this lab manual.
Overall, this is a very good microbiology lab manual and would be a good addition or replacement to a general microbiology lab for undergraduates.
My one overriding complaint is the lack of sufficient photographs for many of the experiments. There are some scattered throughout, and there are some black and white sketches, but there could be more included (e.g. no pictures of Gram stain results, no photos of different types of media, etc.) There are often references to a Blackboard site, but if this is an OER for people to use, it might be nice to include the photos in the lab manual, no? It would be easy enough to include photos to give students an idea of what they should expect to see. Microbiology relies heavily on visualization; digital photography is free. Adding more photos to this very good OER will make it that much more helpful.
This lab manual covers bacteria, fungi, protozoans, helminths, arthropods, and biotechnological tools, such as ELISA. The lab manual covers the content well-enough to not need any supplementary materials. There is not a glossary for this lab... read more
This lab manual covers bacteria, fungi, protozoans, helminths, arthropods, and biotechnological tools, such as ELISA. The lab manual covers the content well-enough to not need any supplementary materials. There is not a glossary for this lab manual, but terms are defined and explained throughout the text.
I have used this lab manual for five semesters. I have not found any errors or biases in the textbook. All material is presented in a manner that focuses directly on science.
The lab manual has been relevant. The authors use BSL-1 and BSL-2 bacteria. I reached out to the authors about modifying the lab manual to my needs because my college only uses BSL-1 bacteria. The authors responded within a few hours with the word document form of the lab manual. With this version of the manual, I have been able to modify as needed.
The manual’s clarity was one of the components that led me to choose this text for my students. My students can follow the lab manual without much difficulty.
The lab manual is coherent throughout. Each lab exercise has the same format and consistency with bolding of the terminology.
This lab manual is great in terms of modularity. There are 13 lab procedures in the manual. The first 6 labs should flow as presented in the manual to allow for students to have a solid foundation in the microbiology concepts. The labs are slightly self-referential, but I believe this is necessary for students to understand the content. The instructor/professor can rearrange the labs if needed. Labs 7 through 13 can be organized in any way because they are not self-referential.
The document is well organized. There is a table of contents that contains lab headings and appendices. Within the lab content, I believe the text flows well. The concepts are thoroughly explained and easy for students to follow.
I did not have any issues with navigating the lab manual. The manual is available in PDF format with all tables and images visible and easy to interpret.
There were not any noticeable grammatical errors. Many of the terms are scientific and may have errors populate for that reason.
The lab manual is based on scientific facts, theories, and practices. It does not have any references to cultural identities.
I emailed the authors of the laboratory manual for access to the case studies and a .doc file version of the manual. Dr. Petersen was very helpful in my first semester of utilizing the manual. Dr. Petersen provided the .doc file as well as insight on the case studies. The first semester implementation of the manual was a pleasant experience. I have made modifications to the manual over the years with ease.
The lab manual covers most core aspects of the microbial world very well: bacteria, fungi, and protists, but does not include any experiments with the viruses. A simple exercise with bacteriophage T4 and Escherichia coli could be added to... read more
The lab manual covers most core aspects of the microbial world very well: bacteria, fungi, and protists, but does not include any experiments with the viruses. A simple exercise with bacteriophage T4 and Escherichia coli could be added to illustrate plaque formation.
The lab manual is very good in giving the students a place to record results in a format that will allow them to see how to collect data and interpret it. Leaving a blank page for notes also is good.
Each lab has excellent “thought questions” at the end to help the student to understand the relevance of the details of the experiments that they have performed.
Key words are defined well in the introductory portion of each exercise.
For the most part the content was excellent and quite accurate. My suggestions for improvement include:
1. Skip the dichotomous keys exercise (Lab 6). Dichotomous keys can lead students down the wrong path if even one test is inaccurate. Statistical analyses using databases (e.g. Lab 12 Biolog or an API strip) or simply giving the students tables with percentages of positive and negative results for each organism are far more likely to generate the correct result, especially when novice students are performing tests for the first time.
2. The disinfectant experiment is flawed (Lab 8). Dipping disks into disinfectant and looking for zone size is not an accurate method to measure efficacy of disinfectants. Some disinfectants diffuse rapidly and others more slowly. Alcohols will evaporate at 37 degrees and appear not to work at all! A much better test is to add an organism to the disinfectant and take quantitative samples over a 15-minute time period. This illustrates that exposure time is important and can include a broth control so the relative numbers of organisms that were inhibited can be judged. Zone sizes ONLY are useful when used in conjunction with a table where they are correlated with minimal inhibitory concentrations and safely achievable serum levels as is necessary in the agar disk diffusion test (Kirby-Bauer).
3. Several exercises should include explicit safety warnings. The throat culture experiment (Lab 11) is one example. 15% of the population harbor low numbers of Streptococcus pyogenes as normal flora. The numbers of those organisms that could grow up on a sheep blood agar plate is hazardous. Those plates should not be opened. I would recommend the use of gloves in the ELISA exercise (Lab 12) to help reinforce the importance of universal precautions whenever bodily fluids (e.g. serum in this experiment) are handled.
Most of the experiments are classic microbiology topics that are timeless and very relevant to understand the growth, identification and testing of microbes.
The authors do an excellent job of explaining how to perform procedures and illustrating techniques. The drawings are not fancy, but serve the purpose, and I actually liked the appearance of “hand-drawn” illustrations, as that is the way the students’ pictures are likely to appear.
The authors also give little hints about subtle ways to help the students’ experiments succeed that often are omitted in other lab manuals.
I did not see any contradictions among any of the labs.
While the textbook does follow a logical flow, each lab could be a stand-alone lab (once the general safety and aseptic techniques have been mastered) and serve as a module that could be inserted into an existing course.
The textbook follows a logical flow.
One comment: I would put the exercise describing the parts of the microscope prior to the exercise where the students actually use the microscope (Lab 1).
I had no problem accessing or navigating through the lab manual when used as a pdf. For some reason, I was unable to download the manual onto my computer without generating an error code. I would recommend that students print each lab and bring those needed to class each week in paper form. I would not allow students to bring laptops or other electronic devices into the lab in case of a spill.
I did not find any grammatical errors.
There were no references to the cultural aspects of society, which likely would have been irrelevant for this lab manual. The importance and relevance of the topics covered in the exercise for all humans and for our entire planet is covered in the introductory portion for most lab exercises.
With the few modifications that I have suggested, I like the manual. The experiment of dipping disks into disinfectants is flawed and should definitely be changed as it does not teach students the proper way to assess disinfectants, and it gives students the idea that the larger the zone size around the disk, the better the drug or disinfectant, which is NOT always true.
This text provides a solid over-view of microbiology concepts that can be used in a general microbiology course. It provides an appendix in the back of the book, but does not provide a glossary of terms. It does, however, give definitions of... read more
This text provides a solid over-view of microbiology concepts that can be used in a general microbiology course. It provides an appendix in the back of the book, but does not provide a glossary of terms. It does, however, give definitions of terms that are introduced within the chapters.
The content of the text is accurate and unbiased. The authors present the core topics that need to be discussed in this type of setting so that students can gain insight on the material gradually and thoroughly.
The content of the book is relevant and up-to-date. In the world of science, things are never stagnant and new organisms can be discovered that may cause disease. This text can be arranged to insert any new updates easily and without confusion to the student.
The text is written in a very easy to understand manner. Any new vocabulary is quickly explained and defined for the student and is in bold print. The review questions at the end of the chapters help solidify the concepts. The authors supply an adequate amount of background information in the chapter, so that students do not need to visit other sources to answer the review questions.
The text is consistent in terminology and framework. The manner in which it was written makes it easy for the reader to understand the topics, as well as understand the instructions in performing different activities in each of the labs. The review questions are consistent with the discussion(s) at the beginning of each lab. The authors add varying questions throughout the lab, not just at the end of the lab (review questions), which helps the student keep focus on the topic at hand.
The text is divided into appropriate sections that build a good foundation of microbiology concepts for the students. For example, the first lab gives a brief explanation of microscopy, then aseptic techniques, and slowly progresses to the discussion of different types of bacteria, etc. and their characteristics (morphology, staining etc.) There is a natural progression of concepts within this text without it disrupting the flow to the reader.
The topics in the text are presented in a clear and logical fashion, progressing to clinical microbiology and case studies. The authors provide ideas and suggestions for both mid-term and final practicals, as well as how to make serial dilutions/scientific notation in the appendices at the back of the book. This is very useful to the student. There is enough space for information, including filling out charts, answering questions, etc., to be written in the space provided. This overlooked area is important for students that need ample room in writing down their answers, especially when referring back to study for upcoming quizzes and/or tests.
The text does not display any interface issues that may distract or confuse the reader. However the authors could improve the text by inserting more professional style visuals for the student, instead of handwritten drawings on the front and back cover.
The text did not contain any significant grammatical or spelling errors (<3).
The text is not culturally insensitive in any way to varying ethnicities, races, or backgrounds.
Most students are visual learners, so to make this book even better, I would include more actual colored pictures/images and less hand-written drawings.
This is excellent lab manual for introductory microbiology. The book contains wonderful illustrations and provides numerous exercises and hands-on activities. The text is easy to read and well-organized into a thorough overview of clinical... read more
This is excellent lab manual for introductory microbiology. The book contains wonderful illustrations and provides numerous exercises and hands-on activities. The text is easy to read and well-organized into a thorough overview of clinical microbiology with sections on eukaryotic pathogens and immunology. There is no discussion of viruses in the lab manual but this book is very complete for general microbiology for college students.
Everything I read was correct and also presented in very direct and complete language. I think the book provides a great and unbiased overview of clinical microbiology.
This book of laboratory exercises will be relevant for a great deal of time. Even if new automated tests will be used in clinical laboratories, this book provides the simple direct hands-on approach for teaching college students.
It is written very well with easy to read chapters for different experiments. I think the language is simple in a very positive way where the students can easily understand the relevance of the various experimental techniques.
The book is consistent throughout.
The best part of the book is that the experimental class days are well-defined. The specific topics for each laboratory class are laid out for each section.
I like the flow. The start of the book with overall with diagrams and activities reviewing microscopy and introducing microorganisms in general is great. I like the details on bacteria especially on different staining techniques and various antibiotic and disinfectants testing.
It is easy to navigate as a pdf for reading. But I can imagine for use by students in the lab classroom, a printed paper copy would be preferable.
I found no problems with grammar.
The book is relevant to current microbiology. As a science book, there is no reference to social culture but plenty of reference to bacterial cultures.
A great lab book for creating a microbiology lab class.
Table of Contents
- Lab 1. Introduction to Microscopy and Diversity of Cell Types
- Lab 2. Introduction to Aseptic Techniques and Growth Media
- Lab 3. Preparation of Bacterial Smears and Introduction to Staining
- Lab 4. Acid fast and Endospore Staining
- Lab 5. Metabolic Activities of Bacteria
- Lab 6. Dichotomous Keys
- Lab 7. The Effect of Physical Factors on Microbial Growth
- Lab 8. Chemical Control of Microbial Growth—Disinfectants and Antibiotics
- Lab 9. The Microbiology of Milk and Food
- Lab 10. The Eukaryotes
- Lab 11. Clinical Microbiology I; Anaerobic pathogens; Vectors of Infectious Disease
- Lab 12. Clinical Microbiology II—Immunology and the Biolog System
- Lab 13. Putting it all Together: Case Studies in Microbiology
- Appendix I. Information About Lab Practical Exams
- Appendix II. Scientific Notation and Serial Dilution
- Appendix III. Introduction to Micropipetting
About the Book
The exercises in this laboratory manual are designed to engage students in hand-on activities that reinforce their understanding of the microbial world. Topics covered include: staining and microscopy, metabolic testing, physical and chemical control of microorganisms, and immunology. The target audience is primarily students preparing for a career in the health sciences, however many of the topics would be appropriate for a general microbiology course as well.
About the Contributors
Susan McLaughlin is a Professor in the Biology department at Queensborough Community College, Bayside, NY.
Joan Petersen Professor in the Science department at Queensborough Community College, Bayside, NY