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Cellular Microbiology


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: Professor Sanjib Bhakta
  • Assessment: a laboratory report (25%), group research and oral presentation (25%) and 1.5-hour examination (50%)

Module description

In this module we provide thorough training in cellular, biochemical and genetic aspects of microbial pathogens, host-pathogen interactions and their role in causing diseases.

We will address infectious disease, disease-causing microbes and their transmission, with an emphasis on molecular diagnosis, the molecular basis of antimicrobial resistance, basic molecular cell biology, biochemical pathways and their endogenous function to explore the basis of pathogenicity, host-pathogen interactions including modulation of immune function by microbes. We will also explore the application of molecular techniques such as CRISPR Cas9 genome editing and other molecular methods to address questions.

The emphasis will be in teaching concepts which are broadly relevant to many fields of cell biology, molecular biology and the molecular basis of infection/disease. In the context of virology, the module will cover the Baltimore system for classifying viruses and the general implications of this. In addition, we will look in depth at the cell biology and molecular biology of certain viruses.

Indicative syllabus

  • Aspects of medical bacteriology (disease and disease-causing pathogens/AMR - Global Health Challenge)
  • Bacterial cell biology (cell wall, cell shape, morphology, antibiotic targets, drug metabolism)
  • Bacterial pathogenesis: host defences; virulence factors and toxins; colonisation strategies
  • Monitoring live influx and efflux in bacteria (AMR mechanism)
  • Introduction to parasitic infections; parasites and the immune system
  • Molecular basis of parasite drug resistance and molecular diagnosis of parasitic infections
  • Parasitic infections and the molecular basis underlying vaccine strategies
  • Cell biology of parasites and host cell interactions
  • Recombinant enzyme assay - to determine drug metabolism
  • Symbiotic relationships between bacteria, parasites and insects
  • Microbial communities
  • Viruses: Introduction to viruses and cellular and molecular biology of a specific virus
  • Antimicrobials and drug resistance

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will understand:

  • microbial classification and its role in disease incidence and transmission
  • how microbes are able to manipulate and evade the host immune system
  • selected microbes' lifecycles and how these relate to disease control
  • endogenous biochemical pathways, metabolism, molecular basis of antimicrobial resistance
  • regulation of gene expression, use of genomic and proteomic databases, genetic modifications.