Focusing on Health: Laboratory Exercises in Microbiology
Focusing on Health: Laboratory Exercises in Microbiology

Focusing on Health: Laboratory Exercises in Microbiology

Lead Author(s): Derek Weber

Student Price: Free with Top Hat Pro Subscription

bluedoor - This manual provides microbiology students with clinically relevant, real-world learning opportunities set within the framework of the microbiology laboratory. Each exercise contains a Focusing on Health section that interweaves material from the laboratory with applications in public health and/or the clinic. These vignettes aim to build student interest and connections, consistent with recommendations from the Vision and Change report. For instructors, this integration creates the opportunity for productive discussion of the impact of microbes on human health throughout the term.

Table of Contents



  • Exercise 1: Introduction to the Light Microscope
    Focusing on Health: Tools of the Trade | Topic: Clinical importance of microscopes
  • Exercise 2: Simple Stain
    Focusing on Health: An Identity Parade | Topic: Bacterial shape and arrangement
  • Exercise 3: Gram Stain
    Focusing on Health: Are You Ready for College? | Topic: Bacterial meningitis
  • Exercise 4: Acid-Fast Staining
    Focusing on Health: TB or Not TB, That is the Question | Topic: Tuberculosis
  • Exercise 5: Endospore Staining
    Focusing on Health: Be(e) Careful With Honey | Topic: Infant botulism
  • Exercise 6: Negative Staining
    Focusing on Health: Unholy Halos | Topic: Cryptococcal meningitis
  • Exercise 7: Capsule Stain
    Focusing on Health: Hiding in Plain Sight | Topic: Bacillus anthracis and anthrax
  • Exercise 8: Fungi: Yeasts and Molds
    Focusing on Health: Unintended Intoxication | Topic: Gut fermentation syndrome
  • Exercise 9: Parasitic Protozoans
    Focusing on Health: (Un)Well Water | Topic: Giardiasis and well water
  • Exercise 10: Medically Important Helminths
    Focusing on Health: Dangerous Dieting | Topic: Tapeworms as a dieting tool


  • Exercise 11: Aseptic Technique
    Focusing on Health: Taking What You Learn With You | Topic: HAIs and aseptic technique
  • Exercise 12: Cultural Characteristics of Microorganisms
    Focusing on Health: Taking the First Step | Topic: Proper specimen collection
  • Exercise 13: Evaluation of Growth Media
    Focusing on Health: What Do You Get Neisseria for Valentine’s Day? | Topic: Culturing Neisseria spp.
  • Exercise 14: Streak Plate Isolation
    Focusing on Health: A Winning Streak | Topic: Isolating two common UTI pathogens
  • Exercise 15: Phenylethyl Alcohol Agar (PEA)
    Focusing on Health: Selecting Wisely | Topic: Staphylococcus aureus enterocolitis
  • Exercise 16: Mannitol Salt Agar (MSA)
    Focusing on Health: Hidden Dangers of the Locker Room | Topic: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
  • Exercise 17: Eosin-Methylene Blue Agar (EMB)
    Focusing on Health: Urinary Catheter CAUTIon | Topic: Nosocomial Enterobacter aerogenes infections
  • Exercise 18: MacConkey Agar
    Focusing on Health: Vegetarians Beware | Topic: Escherichia coli O157:H7
  • Exercise 19: Blood Agar
    Focusing on Health: The Gold Standard | Topic: Diagnosing strep throat
  • Exercise 20: Anaerobic Culture
    Focusing on Health: Not Just For Frozen Faces | Topic: Clostridium botulinum and BOTOX


  • Exercise 21: Phenol Red Broth
    Focusing on Health: Day Care Danger | Topic: Shigellosis
  • Exercise 22: Triple Sugar Iron Agar
    Focusing on Health: Unclean Soap? | Topic: Nosocomial Serratia marcescens infections
  • Exercise 23: Starch Hydrolysis (Amylase Test)
    Focusing on Health: Leftovers That Leave You Left Under | Topic: Bacillus cereus and food poisoning
  • Exercise 24: Lipid Hydrolysis (Lipase Test)
    Focusing on Health: Crying Over Raw Milk | Topic: Listeriosis
  • Exercise 25: Casein Hydrolysis (Casease Test)
    Focusing on Health: No Not Nocardiosis | Topic: Nocardiosis
  • Exercise 26: Gelatin Hydrolysis (Gelatinase Test)
    Focusing on Health: The Four Habits of Highly Successful Pathogens | Topic: Pathogenesis of Enterococcus faecalis
  • Exercise 27: Catalase Test
    Focusing on Health: In(k)fections | Topic: Soft-tissue and skin infections
  • Exercise 28: Oxidase Test
    Focusing on Health: What is Lurking in Your Hot Tub? | Topic: Hot tub rash
  • Exercise 29: SIM Medium
    Focusing on Health: Crying Fowl | Topic: Salmonellosis
  • Exercise 30: Methyl Red and Voges-Proskauer Tests
    Focusing on Health: A Hidden Danger of Alcoholism | Topic: Klebsiella pneumoniae pneumonia
  • Exercise 31: Simmons Citrate Agar
    Focusing on Health: Open Up and Say Nahhh | Topic: Pseudomonas aeruginosa outbreak
  • Exercise 32: Nitrate Reduction Broth
    Focusing on Health: Separating the Good from the Bad | Topic: Proper diagnosis of gonorrhea
  • Exercise 33: Urease Test
    Focusing on Health: RAre Complications of Urinary Tract Infections | Topic: Proteus mirabilis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Exercise 34: Phenylalanine Deaminase Test
    Focusing on Health: In Need of Providence | Topic: Providencia stuartii infections
  • Exercise 35: EnteroPluri-Test
    Focusing on Health: A Serious Pest | Topic: The Great Plague


  • Exercise 36: Bacterial Transformation
    Focusing on Health: Sharing is Caring | Topic: HGT in biofilms
  • Exercise 37: Slide Agglutination: Coagulase Assay
    Focusing on Health: A Race Against Time | Topic: Bacteremia


  • Exercise 38: Identification of Gram-negative Enterobacteriaceae: Infection of the Urinary Tract
    Focusing on Health: The Case: A Common Link? | Topic: Enteric infection of the urinary tract
  • Exercise 39: Identification of Gram-positive Cocci: Infection of a Surgical Wound
    Focusing on Health: The Case: Challenges of a Military Hospital | Topic: Post-injury infections
  • Exercise 40: Identification of an Unknown Bacteria: Infection of the Blood and Neonatal Sepsis
    Focusing on Health: The Case: Bacterial Sepsis in the Neonatal Care Unit | Topic: Neonatal sepsis


  • Exercise 41: Effects of Oxygen on Growth
    Focusing on Health: Fighting Foot Infections | Topic: Hyperbaric chambers
  • Exercise 42: Effects of Temperature on Growth
    Focusing on Health: Hold the Hot Dogs | Topic: Listeriosis
  • Exercise 43: Effects of pH on Growth
    Focusing on Health: DIFF-iculty in Treating Indigestion | Topic: Clostridium difficile and PPIs
  • Exercise 44: Osmotic Growth
    Focusing on Health: Gas Station Meat | Topic: Food preservation
  • Exercise 45: Effects of Ultraviolet Radiation on Growth
    Focusing on Health: Clearing the Air | Topic: Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI)
  • Exercise 46: Effectiveness of Hand Washing
    Focusing on Health: A Helping Hand? | Topic: Hand Hygiene and HAIs
  • Exercise 47: Evaluation of Disinfectants: The Filter-Paper Disk Method
    Focusing on Health: A Common Sense Approach | Topic: Spaulding rules for disinfection
  • Exercise 48: Evaluation of Antibiotics: The Kirby-Bauer Method
    Focusing on Health: Calling on Old Friends | Topic: Reemergence of polymyxin for CRE infections