SHE Level 3
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code M3C523505
Module Leader Karen Keith
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • B (January start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

Introduction to Microbiology or equivalent

Summary of Content

This module is designed to consolidate and expand knowledge of microbial genetics and virology obtained in year 2. Students should gain an understanding of how bacterial genetic material can be altered, by mutation, horizontal gene transfer and programmed gene rearrangements. Emphasis will be placed on the nature of the molecular mechanisms involved in these processes. The diversity of DNA repair mechanisms and the importance of transposable elements and suppressor mutations as tools for the molecular microbiologist will be explored. Levels of transcriptional and translational control and the role of quorum sensing in bacterial communities will be introduced. Students will consider the role of bacteriophage in the environment, involvement in bacterial pathogenicity and the potential use of phage in the treatment of infectious disease. An overview of viral mechanisms and host responses and the importance of sub-viral agents will be presented. Students should also gain an ability to analyse, interpret and evaluate genetic data generated by experiment.


Microbial Genetics (10) The experimental evidence for spontaneous and adaptive mutation. The molecular mechanisms that cause mutations. Mutagens and the mode of action that results in an increased mutation rate. The Ames test for mutagens. Directed mutation as a tool for variation in fimbriae and flagella and control in sporulation and nitrogenase expression. Suppressor mutations. An introduction to mobile genetic elements including insertion sequences, composite and replicative transposons and integrons. Repair mechanisms used to minimise DNA damage. Photoreactivation, nucleotide excision, recombination repair, SOS response. Viruses (4) An overview of viral mechanisms and host responses, including innate and adaptive immunity, virus interference with host immunity, host cell restriction factors will be provided Additional infectious agents, the defective viroid Hepatitis Delta virus and infections associated with abnormal prion protein folding (TSE) will be introduced. Chronic HDV infections leads to more severe disease than Hepatitis B virus monoinfection and increased risks for development of hepatocellular carcinoma. Epidemiology, transmission and pathogenesis of HDV will be presented. For TSEs, the properties of the infectious agent, clinical disease and public health and regulatory requirements will also be discussed. Bacteriophage (4) The genetics of bacteriophage including examples of RNA, ssDNA and dsDNA phage. Genetic regulation of temperate phage, specifically phage lambda. The association of phage with human disease including diphtheria and cholera. The use of phage in the treatment of infectious disease. Bacterial Physiology (4) Transcriptional control including promoters (operon and regulon), sigma factors and anti-sigma factors. Regulation of the lac operon by inducer exclusion and catabolite repression. The stringent response, ribosome binding, bacterial communication, an introduction to quorum sensing and two component regulatory systems Tutorials (8) Study and review tutorials support the lectures. One tutorial is used as a formative lab report writing exercise to supplement laboratory sessions. Advanced understanding of aspects of virology will be encouraged through study of relevant papers. Data handling practice is presented through worked examples and supplementary questions are offered through the VLE, Blackboard. Laboratory Classes (15) These closely parallel and support the lectures on microbial genetics and give the students the opportunity to carry out some traditional genetics experiments. The emphasis is on data presentation and data handling. Students will carry out analysis of suppressor mutants created during the laboratory sessions so each set of results generated is unique.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, the student should be able to:1. Work in collaboration with others to generate significant data in the laboratory 2. Interpret laboratory data 3. Recognise terminology associated with microbial genetics4. Evaluate molecular genetic data.5. Analyse processes involved in gene mutation and gene transfer in microorganisms6. Appreciate complexities of both viral and sub-viral particles and their interactions with the host genome at both a genetic and an immunological level.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

Students will be taught by formal lectures and tutorial sessions, student-centred learning, data analysis, review and revision sessions. Student-centred learning involving library, textbook, and electronic learning resources in managed learning environments will enhance the learning process. Animations and video material accessed through the internet are used to illustrate complex molecular mechanisms. Data interpretation sessions will provide exercises and practice in handling genetic data and develop the student's ability to critically analyse experimental results. Laboratory based sessions will use traditional bacterial genetics techniques to encourage students to appreciate how alterations at the molecular level give rise to phenotypic change.

Indicative Reading

-2582 Reading material will be recommended by individual tutors and will include relevant recent scientific papers and reviews. However the following texts may be useful; -360-2582b7 Dale and Park (2010). Molecular Genetics of Bacteria (5th edition). Wiley. -2582 -360-2582b7 Hartl and Jones (2011). Genetics: Analysis of Genes and Genomes (8th edition) -2582 Jones and Bartlett. -360-2582b7 Kim, BH and Gadd, GM (2008). Bacterial Physiology and Metabolism. Cambridge -2582 University Press. -2582 -360b7 Craig N, Green R, Greider C et al (2014) Molecular Biology: Principles of Genome Function (2 nd edition) OUP

Transferrable Skills

Students should acquire and develop both laboratory and personal transferable (PT) skills. PT skills such as effective written communication, information retrieval, problem solving and effective analysis of data are developed. Students should continue to be aware of safe laboratory practice and should gain experience of working together in order to generate significant data.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Independent Learning (FT) 145.00
Lectures (FT) 22.00
Practicals (FT) 15.00
Assessment (FT) 10.00
Tutorials (FT) 8.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Exam (Exams Office) 2.00 50.00 35% Unseen written exam. Essays & short notes
Coursework 1 n/a 30.00 35% Laboratory Reports
Coursework 2 1.00 20.00 35% Data Analysis