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Letters

Unseen Life on Earth: A Telecourse

The microbial world leaps off the textbook page and onto the screen with a comprehensive microbiology video series and telecourse.

Unseen Life on Earth: An Introduction to Microbiology gives microbiology educators a unique opportunity to dynamically teach complex topics and enhance students' understanding of the microbial world.

The telecourse and video series consists of 12 half-hour programs that cover various aspects of microbiology:

Microbial Cell Biology

1. The Microbial Universe: An overview of the world of microorganisms; how a group of scientists identified a previously unknown microbe; basic laboratory techniques and microbial genetic codes.

2. The Unity of Living Systems: Similiarities among procaryotic and eukaryotic organisms; diverse patterns of cell assembly; the relationship of cell types to non-cell entities such as viruses.

3. Metabolism: Production of energy and transformation of the environment by microbial metabolism; construction and use of molecules by microorganisms.

Microbial Genetics

4. Reading the Code of Life: The central role of DNA in carrying and replicating information; mutations; microbial regulation of genetic products to conserve energy and adapt to new environments.

5. Genetic Transfer: Genetic diversity through horizontal gene transfer; conjugation, transformation and transduction; exploitation of these processes through recombinant DNA.

Integrating Themes

6. Microbial Evolution: New theories of evolution and the relationships among organisms; development of genetic techniques using molecular sequences to trace phylogenetic relationships of microbial life.

7. Microbial Diversity: Relationships between bacteria, archaea, and eukaryote branches of life; impact of diversity in natural habitats and the laboratory.

Microorganisms in the Environment

8. Microbial Ecology: Microorganisms as processors of oxygen, nutrients and waste; important environments dominated by microbes; the essential role of microbes in human life.

9. Microbial Control: Controlling microbes in special situations, e.g., food safety and hospitals; strategies used in microbial control.

Microorganisms and Human Life

10. Microbial Interactions: Symbiotic relationships among microbes; relationships between microbes and higher organisms.

11. Human Defenses: Strategies used by invading microbial pathogens; exploration of the coordinated human defense system through visual analogy, animation and examples of specific diseases.

12. Microbes and Human Diseases: Microbial and human encounters that result in disease; factors in disease outbreaks; current efforts to track infectious diseases and control disease worldwide.

The series is designed for students who have had introductory biology and chemistry coursework. The programs in the series are cross-referenced with current microbiology textbooks:

  • Microbiology: An Introduction , Sixth Edition by Tortora, Funke and Case, 1998.
  • Microbiology , Fourth Edition by Prescott, Harley, and Klein, 1999.
  • Introduction to Microbiology , Second Edition by Ingraham and Ingraham, 2000.

The textbook publishers provide student and faculty guides to instructors who may select guides based on which book they are currently using in the classroom.

Interested educators and institutions can purchase a curriculum package including the 12 half-hour programs on videotape, a faculty guide and rights to duplicate one set of videos. The cost is $499. For more information, call 1-800-LEARNER or visit Annenberg/CPB online. Instructors may request a free preview tape. (Interested parties outside the United States should call 1-847-475-7433 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Price may vary.)

Institutions can also license Unseen Life on Earth: An Introduction to Microbiology as a complete college-credit telecourse or obtain an off-air or off-satellite taping license through the PBS Adult Learning Service. Call 1-800-257-2578. (Note: the telecourse cannot be licensed for use outside the United States.)

This video series was produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting in associaton with Baker & Simon Associates and the American Society for Microbiology . Major funding was provided by the Annenberg/CPB Project .

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