The last third of BIO230 is a survey of the major taxonomic groups of microbes, beginning with the Gram positive bacteria. Many pre-allied health textbooks for microbiology use a survey by diseases approach, which as a biologist I do not like. What we would find in such a textbook is that our first Gram positive bacterium, Staphylococcus aureus, would show up in a chapter on diseases of skin and wounds, diseases of the conjunctiva, diseases of the digestive system, and diseases of the urinary and reproductive systems. The same bacterium, revisited 5 times! That’s a crazy way to approach it, unless of course you are Dr. House. With the approach we will follow, we will study the pathogen once, with the realization that it can cause disease at a number of body sites.
We will cover the following topics between now and the end of the semester: Gram positive bacteria (Ch 19), Gram negative bacteria (Ch 20), other bacteria (Ch 21), fungi (Ch 22, with an introduction to fungi from Ch 12), protozoa (Ch 23, with an introduction to protists from Ch 12), and viruses (Ch 24 and 25, with an introduction to virology from Ch 13). As you start thumbing through these chapters, you will immediately notice that these chapters encompass a huge amount of detail.
My objective with these survey chapters is this: I want the class to understand the basis of disease (as we learned about in Chapter 14) and apply those concepts to a select group of the pathogens in the upcoming chapters. For instance, we will spend at least a whole day discussing S. aureus, and learn about the specific virulence factors it posesses, and the roles that those virulence factors play in the most common ramifications of staphylococcal disease. This will allow us to understand the potential treatments for staphylococcal diseases, and why they are failing on an increasing basis. With that basis of knowledge, we will be in an excellent position to apply those facts and understand how other Gram positive pathogens are able to cause disease. We will use the same approach with the other major taxonomic distinctions of microorganisms.