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Te Tari Moromoroiti me te Ārai Mate

MICR 332: Health Microbiology

Second Semester - 18 points

Course prescription

Disease mechanisms of key microbial pathogens, including bacteria, protozoa, and fungi. Treatment and control of microbial diseases. Role of the human microbiome and commensals in health and disease.

"The labs were really fun and enjoyable and it was great to see what we learnt in action." - MICR 332 student, 2019.


Course overview

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  • In this paper, we will discuss select microbes that cause important human diseases, the impact of commensal microbes on health, and strategies developed to prevent or treat infections.

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  • This paper is relevant to students who have an interest in medical microbiology. It is not designed for medical students, but rather for potential microbiological researchers, managers of medical practices or medical laboratories, or future makers of medical policy.




Lecture course overview

The lectures are divided into four modules. There will be one tutorial.

Associate Professor Keith Ireton: Molecular approaches to identify bacterial virulence factors and host susceptibility factors; specific bacterial pathogens and their respective diseases

Dr Xochitl Morgan: The human microbiome; the tole of commensals in health and disease

Associate Professor Bruce Russell: Parasitology

Dr James Ussher: Treatment of infections with antimicrobial agents; vaccines

Lab course overview

The human body is home to thousands of bacterial species. Many are innocuous, but others may be pathogenic.

In the MICR332 labs, you will plan your own experiments, develop a research project, and prepare a written report of your findings. You will investigate your own microflora by isolating bacteria from different body sites. You will then identify and characterise the isolated bacterial strains. You will also identify and characterise two ‘unknown’ medically relevant strains that are given to you.

You will be using growth on differential and selective agar or mass spectrometry for the identification of bacteria, and a variety of medical laboratory assays to test for the production of known bacterial virulence factors. 


  1. A laboratory report written in the style of a scientific paper (25%). 
  2. A 20-question quiz on the laboratory material (5%). 
  3. A 3-hour final exam on the lecture material (70%). 

Course prerequisites

MICR221 and MICR223

Note: BBiomedSc students are permitted to take MICR332 without the MICR221 prerequisite.



Days and times: Wednesday, Friday 12:00 – 12:50 pm

Locations: To be announced

Laboratory sessions (July 9th - July 31st):

Days and times: Tuesday 2:00 PM- 5:50 PM; Wednesday 9:00 AM -5:50 PM

Note: Because of the large number of students enrolled, students will likely be placed into either of two streams within scheduled lab times. You will be informed by email which stream you must attend.The lab also will be open on other days of the week and you may need to come to the labs for short periods on those days. The scheduled times for other days will be given in the lab manual. 

Location: 3rd floor microbiology laboratory, Microbiology building.

Attendance: Required in order to make terms.

Note: there are no lecture or practical clashes between any of the 300-level MICR papers


Essential text:

Recommended text: Wilson, BA., Salyers, AA., Whitt, DD. And Winkler ME. 2011, Third edition. Bacterial pathogenesis. A Molecular Approach. American Society for Microbiology.

Note: When appropriate, lecturers will suggest reading in the text that may help you better understand their lecture material. However, material for the exams will be taken from lecture content. Reading the text is suggested, but not absolutely required.

Teaching staff

For more information

Download the course outline

View the details of this paper on the University of Otago website

For further information on this paper, please contact Keith Ireton (+64 3 479 7396,



For more information on this course, please contact Associate Professor Keith Ireton.