- Code BIOL3193
- Unit Value 6 units
- Offered by Biology Teaching and Learning Centre
- ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
- Course subject Biology
- Areas of interest Immunology and Microbiology
- Academic career UGRD
- Mode of delivery In Person
You can’t open a newspaper these days without hearing how important gut microbiota are for our health. But what’s the evidence, and how do they affect us? And how do health officials decide it it’s safe for a swim in the local lake or at the local beach? Bacteria affect us in every way, every day, and that’s true throughout the animal world. In this course, you’ll gain a deeper insight into the influential world of bacteria, focussing on their ecology and evolution.
In the course we will cover how the ecology and epidemiology of bacteria play an important role in animal health. For example, what are the effects of the gain and loss of different strains on a host? We will consider the relationship between within host population dynamics, such as those arising from competition between different bacteria, and among host dynamics, involving transmission of bacteria from one host to another. We will look at recent studies on the importance of social networks for disease transmission. Many of these questions will be addressed by looking at individual bacterial species and a variety of hosts, both human and animal. We will also look at animal microbial communities, and their role in nutrition, disease prevention, and as a cause of disease, and how these communities can impact behaviour. Is it true, for example, that so-called faecal transplants can improve the health of the recipient? The course will cover topics related to the diversity of host associated microbial communities, including the factors affecting the composition and stability of these communities.
The course will include a significant section on the evolution of bacterial genomes and accessory elements, in particular the evolution of virulence and bacterial adaptation. We will emphasise the fact that bacteria evolve in ‘real time’, as it were, and that new pathogens are continually emerging. For example, newly evolved E. coli intestinal pathogen that have caused disease outbreaks in Europe. Covid 19, albeit it is a virus, is a stark reminder that organisms that treat humans as hosts have a profound effect on our daily lives. They can even change the course of history as shown by past plagues, like the bubonic plague. Everyone should want to learn a little more about our ongoing battles, and occasional alliances, with the bacteria that live with, on and in every human, including you.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Investigate the processes responsible for shaping the clonal composition of a bacterial species as well as the bacterial community composition within a host.
- Critically evaluate how the human gut microbiota influences human health.
- Critically evaluate how spatial relationships and social interactions determine bacterial transmission among hosts.
- Investigate and analyse quantitatively the processes that underlie bacterial genome evolution.
- Apply a range of bioinformatics techniques used in comparative genomics.
- Employ high order laboratory techniques.
- Practical report (20) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6]
- Major assignment report (50) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
- Final examination (30) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
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The expected workload will consist of approximately 130 hours throughout the semester including:
- Face-to face component which may consist of 2 x 1 hour lectures per week (total 24 hours). 1 x 3 hours of practical sessions per week for 4 weeks.
- Approximately 94 hours of self directed study which will include preparation for lectures, presentations and other assessment tasks.
Students are expected to actively participate and contribute towards discussions.
To be determined
Requisite and Incompatibility
Assumed KnowledgeHave completed 1st and 2nd year biology courses and completion of 96 units toward a degree
Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.
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- 6 units
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