Study Guide Specifications
ECE exams are administered at colleges and universities
The Microbiology study guide covers the history of microbiology; laboratory techniques; the structure and function of microbes; the control of microorganisms; immunity; microbial pathogenesis; and food, environmental, and industrial microbiology.
Microbiology is a relatively new science, spanning the past 350 years. During this time, however, the study of microorganisms has revolutionized the way that we look at the world and our place in it. Indeed, many modern scientific disciplines can trace their origins back to microbiology. The beginnings of microbiology can be traced to the initial construction of instruments capable of directly visualizing microbes.
The realization that some microbes can cause disease in humans, their crops, and their livestock was a defining moment in the history of microbiology. For many years various people had speculated that invisible organisms caused some diseases. However, there was no formal proof for these arguments. Even before microbes were fully appreciated, some investigators stumbled upon links between disease and these invisible life forms. The discipline of Immunology, the study of the immune system, has its roots in the study of microbes. Soon after the finding of microbial diseases, people set out to find ways to eliminate these threats to human health.
All of our food products are directly obtained from other organisms. In the course of collection, processing, packaging, and distribution, microorganisms invariably contaminate foodstuffs. From our point of view, this contamination can have one of three possible outcomes. Often, the presence of microbes is detrimental, resulting in the decomposition of the produce. Other times, however, microbial colonization is beneficial and is actively promoted. Finally, some forms of microbial growth have little or no impact on the quality of our food products.
Microbes have been isolated from nearly every location on the planet from the upper reaches of the atmosphere to several kilometers deep in solid rock. These microbes vary enormously in their metabolic capacities. Because of their ubiquitous distribution and diverse metabolic abilities, the microbes play an essential role in the environmental homeostasis. The metabolic power of microorganisms has also been a historic source of industrial production. With the advent of recombinant molecular biology, though, the role of microbes has been changing in industry.
This overview of the topic is designed to prepare you to pass the Excelsior College examination titled "Microbiology." The study guide is organized into six units. As you read the text, pay particular attention to the terms in bold print, as test-out exams tend to be vocabulary-intensive. Multiple-choice practice questions are at the end of each unit. In addition, a final comprehensive practice exam appears at the end of the book. This practice examination is formatted like the actual test. Taking the practice exam will reinforce key concepts from the study guide, identify areas for further review, provide a gauge for managing testing time appropriately, and verify that the material has been mastered.