MCB 300
School of Molecular and Cellular Biology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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Course Description

Within and all around you lives a hidden microbial menagerie that is vital for both health and disease. The goal of MCB300 is to introduce students to the power of this microbial world and its importance to all biological sciences, including molecular biology, ecology, evolution, medicine, biological engineering, agriculture, and food sciences. The course is comprised of two eight-week portions. The first part, taught by Professor Bill Metcalf, introduces the size, scale and physiological diversity of microorganisms that function in many different environments, including the human microbiome. We will examine how microorganisms grow, move, and develop, how microbial communities change and evolve, and the impact that microorganisms have on human and environmental health. The second part, taught by Professor Steven Blanke, focuses on pathogenic microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and parasites) and viruses and human defenses against them. This half examines in detail particular microbial pathogens and how they infect and cause disease. Together these components integrate to provide a broad understanding of microbial friends and foes and their impact on our world - everywhere, but hidden until now...


The textbook for this course is Brock: Biology of Microorganisms by Madigan, Martinko, Stahl and Clark, Pearson Education, Inc., 2015 (15th edition). E-book versions (web or downloadable) can be purchased from the publisher ( for less than the price of the hardcover version. A copy of the textbook is also on reserve at the Undergraduate Library and the MCB Learning Center. Note: Although all material on exams will be covered in lecture, the textbook is strongly recommended reading for enhanced understanding of the course material.

Lecture Handouts Online

Lecture handouts will be posted on the Website before 9am, in pdf and pptx formats.  Lecture slides will not include all of the material. Class attendance will be required to receive all such material.

Course Website (

The Website will be used for announcements, lecture slide handouts, syllabus, schedule, links to LON-CAPA, gradebook and various forms.  To access material on the Website use your NetID and Active Directory (AD) password.