Unit 3: Bacterial Growth, Reproduction, and Genetics
This course focuses on bacteria, the most studied type of microorganism. We will begin this unit by learning how bacteria cells obtain their energy and how they grow. Metabolism varies greatly among bacteria; not all share the same kinds of mechanisms. While most require oxygen to survive, for example, some will actually die in the presence of oxygen. As the microbiology field increasingly involves the artificial cultivation of bacteria, it is important to know the methods and concepts behind their growth and cultures as well.
Bacteria divide and multiply at amazing rates. Under the right conditions, the fastest bacteria can divide every 20 minutes! That means that if you cultured just one single bacteria cell before you went to bed, you could wake up 8 hours later with a plate of more than 16 million bacteria! Much of bacterial reproduction is asexual, occurring through binary fission. In binary fission, one cell literally divides in two. We will conclude this unit by learning about horizontal gene transfer, a process by which one bacteria cell incorporates genetic changes from another cell without being its offspring. This unique feature has allowed bacteria to adapt and grow in conditions it would not otherwise be able survive. It has also led to the increase of drug-resistant bacterial infections.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 15 hours.