BioQUEST companion activities are designed to provide Unseen Life On Earth Video Seriessimulations of real world problems from the laboratory, the community and the environment. Three levels of activity offer experiences in collaborative problem solving. These investigative resources, to be used with the Unseen Life on Earth telecourse, provide an extended learning experience about microbiology.

Microbes Count! is a collection of multimedia resources, simulations, and tools that offer an interactive, open-ended environment for learning about microbiology. These resources are research-related, contemporary, and lend themselves to collaborative learning in classroom, laboratory, field, or computer workspaces.

Microbes Count! is now freely available. To be able to download PDF files of each Chapter we ask that you register with BioQUEST. Available for download are 40 lab activities and includes access to online resources such as software, data and extended learning materials. A number of the activities were developed in collaboration with undergraduate faculty at the 2001 BioQUEST Summer Workshop.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 The Microbial Universe

How Do You Know a Microbe When You Find One?
Modeling More Mold
Population Explosion: Modeling Phage Growth

Chapter 2 The Unity of Living Systems

Sourdough Symbiosis
The Scale of the Microbial World
Searching for Amylase
Shaped to Survive

Chapter 3 Metabolism

Modeling Wine Fermentation
Biosphere2: Unexpected Interactions
The Living World of Yogurt
Modeling Microbial Growth

Chapter 4 Reading the Code of Life

Searching for the Hereditary Molecule
TB and Antibiotic Resistance
Molecular Forensics
Exploring HIV Evolution: An Opportunity for Research

Chapter 5 Genetic Transfer

The Farmer and the Gene: A Case Approach to Bt Corn
Complements Please!
Conjugation and Genetic Mapping

Chapter 6 Microbial Evolution

Proteins: Historians of Life on Earth
Tree of Life: Introduction to Microbial Phylogeny
Tracking the West Nile Virus
One Cell, Three Genomes: Evidence for Endosymbiosis

Chapter 7 Microbial Diversity

Microbiology of Stratified Waters
Natural Experiments and Variable Variegation
Visualizing Microbial Proteins

Chapter 8 Microbial Ecology

Modeling Microbial Predator-Prey Relationships
Exploring Microbial Fermentation with Korean Kimchee

Chapter 9 Microbial Control

Bioterror and the Microbiologist's Response
Mold Fights Back: A Challenge for Sanitation
Citrus Canker: Alternatives for Control
A Plague on Both Houses: Modeling Viral Infection to Control a Pest Outbreak

Chapter 10 Microbial Interactions

Controlling Potato Blight: Past, Present, and Future
Making Sense of the Complex Life Cycles of Toxic Pfiesteria
Measles in Nakivale Refugee Camp: Epidemiology in Action

Chapter 11 Human Defenses

Identifying Immune Responses
Why Count Types of White Blood Cells?
Epidemiology: Understanding Disease Spread

Chapter 12 Microbes and Human Disease

Souvenirs: Investigating a Disease Outbreak
Maps and Microbes
Vaccine: Experimenting with Strategies to Control Infectious Disease

LuriaDelbruck Activity

Errata (From the 2003 Spiral Bound edition)

Modules listed by
Tools and Resources

Bioinformatics Overview


Activities and software were developed by members of the BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium to actively involve students in their own learning, supplement traditional wet laboratory activities, create virtual laboratories to involve distance learners in the excitement of scientific research, and open up avenues for exploration.


The activities support a range of experiences in inquiry-based learning.

  • help students to understand a concept or a technique of analysis
  • develop multiple step problem-solving skills
  • apply a series of tools in response to data collected in earlier steps
  • develop long-term investigative studies
  • explore multiple questions and research tools to produce new data
  • analyze original data in new ways, such as using bioinformatics to explore hypotheses about phylogenetic relationships



Order Now at the ASM Press Bookstore!